Groups join in support of farm bill funding – High Plains Journal, February 22, 2017
A letter to congressional appropriations and budget leaders, from a diverse coalition of groups, notes the 2014 Farm Bill greatly contributed to the nation’s deficit-reduction effort through reduced spending, and calls on congressional leaders to “reject calls for additional cuts” in the upcoming Farm Bill. The letter, signed by 502 groups and spearheaded in part by the Food Research & Action Center, urges the leaders to reject further cuts during a time when agricultural and rural communities, and a significant number of Americans, are struggling.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP benefits can help those in need – The Post Star, February 21, 2017
“In 2016, SNAP helped a monthly average of 4,026 low-/fixed-income households throughout [New York’s] Warren County stretch food dollars,” writes Bennet F. Driscoll, Jr., of Catholic Charities of Warren County in this letter to the editor. Many disabled Americans, struggling with “enormous medical bills and mental and physical restrictions,” find themselves having to choose between proper nutrition and paying bills, notes Driscoll. SNAP benefits help not only these households, but the community and businesses as well, with every $5 in SNAP benefits generating as much as $9 in economic activity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 2016, about 17.7 million federal dollars were spent by residents of Warren County who received SNAP.
Bill to limit food stamp eligibility criticized – Missoulian, February 21, 2017
About 15,000 Montana residents, in 5,700 households, would lose their SNAP benefits under a proposed bill in the state, which would change the gross income limit from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 130 percent of the poverty level, and disqualify anyone with assets totaling $5,000 or more. Food bank representatives, testifying at a hearing on the bill, said they would be unable to support the people who would lose SNAP benefits. The state Department of Health and Human Services said the legislation would require an updated computer system and additional staff to determine eligibility.
Extra benefits for buying produce under food-stamp pilot program – SFGate.com, February 22, 2017
Three grocery stores in San Jose and Gilroy, California, are participating in a pilot program, funded through USDA and additional organizations, which provides low-income customers using SNAP benefits with an extra dollar to spend on fresh produce for every SNAP dollar they spend on California-grown fruits and vegetables. “The customers are excited for the program,” said Alonzo Lopez, president and co-owner of Arteaga’s, a participating grocery store. The “Double Up Food Bucks” program also has a goal of expanding statewide.
Rep. Walker proposes bill to make food stamps eligible for those convicted of felony drug charges – KTHV, February 21, 2017
Arkansas State Rep. John W. Walker (D-District 34) introduced House Bill 1251 — “Helping Our People Excel (H.O.P.E.) Act” — which will allow formerly incarcerated people convicted of drug felonies to receive SNAP benefits. Currently, these Arkansas residents are not eligible for SNAP. The bill’s supporters say it is important since these individuals lack the support to become successful and are stigmatized because of their backgrounds.
School Breakfast Participation
Texas Ranks High in School Breakfast Program Participation – Public News Service, February 20, 2017
FRAC’s recent School Breakfast Scorecard ranked Texas eighth among states and D.C. for school breakfast participation, with about 63 percent of students receiving lunch also receiving breakfast. The national average was 56 percent. According to the Texas Hunger Initiative, low-income students eating both school breakfast and school lunch have fewer disciplinary problems and do better academically.
Nevada doubles statewide school breakfast participation – Carson Now, February 22, 2017
FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard reports that Nevada had the highest percentage increase in school breakfast participation. The “Breakfast After the Bell” bill, signed into law in June 2015, helped increase the percentage of school breakfast participation from 20 percent in the 2014–2015 school year to 44 percent in 2015–2016. “This good news is the accumulation of all the hard work and determination school districts across Nevada have shown,” said Catrina Peters, school nutrition services manager for the state Department of Agriculture.
More SJSD Students Rely on Free Breakfast and Lunch Programs – St. Joe Channel, February 22, 2017
FRAC reports that Missouri ranked 14th in the nation for the percentage of eligible students participating in [school breakfast]. “We definitely have some high need areas in Missouri, but one of the things that we incorporated this year into our school district has been community eligibility at 14 of our schools,” said Leah Schmidt, director of nutritional services for St. Joseph School District.
McGuire takes successful child hunger fight statewide with new bill – Lake County News, February 21, 2017
California State Senator Mike McGuire (D-2nd Senate District) introduced SB 138, which will allow schools in the state to enroll automatically low-income students for free and reduced-price school meals by using Medi-Cal data. The state Department of Education estimates that an additional 500,000 students would start receiving school meals through this certification process. Districts in the pilot program saw 60,000 additional students receive free and reduced-price school lunch, bringing in more than $33 million in additional federal reimbursements.