Be An Advocate

Issue #31, August 6, 2018

ICYMI: Facebook Live with Jim McGovern
On Aug. 2, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) joined FRAC President Jim Weill for a Facebook Live conversation on the Farm Bill and key actions advocates can take to urge their Members of Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP.

Food Hardship

New Report Finds that More Americans, Particularly Children, are at Risk of Hunger — FRAC, July 31, 2018
In every part of the nation, a large number of households is experiencing food hardship — the inability to afford enough food for themselves and their families — according to a new report by the Food Research & Action Center. How Hungry is America? reveals that, after several years of decline, the national food hardship rate for all households increased from 15.1 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2017.

There’s no easy way out of food hardship in Valley — The Vindicator, August 6, 2018
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked first in the nation in the scope of total job losses in 2017. Then just last week, the Food Research & Action Center, a national anti-hunger advocacy group, reported that this region ranks second-highest among U.S. metro areas in its degree of food hardship, food deserts and hunger. Taken together, the reports stand as a clarion call for continued aggressive efforts on local, state and federal plains to stimulate economic revitalization for the long term and to meet the crisis needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families in our region for the short term.

Almost 13 Percent of Nebraska Households Struggle to Afford Food — KLIN, August 1, 2018
Nearly 13 percent (1 in 8) Nebraskans experience food hardship, according to a new FRAC report. The state also has one the nation’s highest food hardship disparities between households with and households without children, said Drew Goddard of Nebraska Appleseed. The data underscore the need to protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs, he added.

Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why — The Guardian, July 29, 2018
While the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, stagnant wages and “vanishing job benefits,” combined with growing numbers of contract workers without job security and “an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs” create “troubling realities” for American workers, writes Robert Reich, public policy professor at the University of California and former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, in this op-ed. While the economy grows, most of the gains are going to a few top executives, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices. At the same time, it’s tougher for workers to join together to form unions.

Farm Bill and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

McGovern a tireless advocate for the hungry — Greenfield Recorder, August 1, 2018
“It’s a good thing” that Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) has been named to the congressional conference committee on the Farm Bill, notes this editorial, as he is “one of the biggest champions of the hungry in Congress.” Said Clare Higgins, who runs Community Action, “[h]e’s the Number 1 defender of SNAP in the country and has never wavered for a moment in his commitment to see that people are not left hungry. SNAP is under attack in profound ways, so I’m really glad he’s at the table.”

Preserve program that does so much to reduce hunger — St. Louis Today, July 11, 2018
The House Farm Bill calls for SNAP cuts that would mean tens of thousands of Missourians would lose their benefits, writes Jack Lipin, executive director, Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service, in this letter to the editor. The program helps about 750,000 in the state afford food, and 70 percent of households receiving benefits include children. “Local food banks and pantries, like Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service, are already stretched thin,” notes Lipin. “We simply won’t be able to replace the wide-reaching, life-changing benefits that SNAP provides.” He urges readers to contact House Members and ask them to support the bipartisan Senate Farm Bill.

Changes to food stamps could deny benefits to thousands — Philly.com, July 23, 2018
The ability for states to make SNAP available to more people is changed in guidelines contained in the House Farm Bill, a move that would mean 92,000 Pennsylvania residents could lose their SNAP benefits. “The proposed law is just stacked against low-wage workers in so many ways,” said Kathy Fisher, policy director at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. “It will make people fall further into poverty.” The changes could be particularly tough for people working in fast food, hospitality, and retail jobs, said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Leaders need to SNAP out of bad policy decisions — Press Herald, July 29, 2018
Thousands of Maine residents have lost SNAP benefits since 2014 as “harsh, unnecessary” new requirements have been implemented in the state. “As a result, more children have been going to bed hungry, food pantries are being exhausted of resources and low-income Mainers are now more vulnerable to unemployment and hardship,” writes Christopher Hassan in this letter to the editor. He urges the state’s congressional representatives to support SNAP “by enriching, not draining” it and other public benefits.

Keep SNAP in Farm Bill — Journal Tribune, July 31, 2018
“As a registered dietician nutritionist, I am urging my members of Congress, to not cut SNAP’s funding or include harmful changes in the Farm Bill,” writes Ashley Matthews, who serves on Georgia’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Public Policy Committee. In 2017, SNAP helped 762,301 households afford food, and for every dollar in benefits issued, the state saw $1.70 in economic activity, according to the Georgia Department of Human Services. SNAP reduces spending on future health care, and children receiving SNAP are more likely to do better in school.

In Erie, social services are a lifeline — Marketplace, July 26, 2018
The president’s Council of Economic Advisors recently declared America’s War on Poverty “largely over and a success,” although a quarter of the residents in Erie, Pennsylvania, live under the federal poverty line and rely on SNAP and other programs to survive. For most, SNAP benefits do not last the month, while there are those in the government who want to make the benefit tougher to access. “A lot of people are depressed because they think they’re never going to get out of their situation,” said Sabrina Tolbert, a local social worker. “They’re working two part-time jobs. They’re just worried about living day to day.”

When buying food takes a stamp — Daily Journal Online, July 31, 2018
The calls in Congress to cut SNAP benefits would significantly affect this single, working mother in Missouri. “I’m college-educated and it’s virtually impossible to find a high-paying job that gives you a living wage to be able to support a family,” she said. “If we lost our food stamps, it would really be a trying time for us.” At times, especially during the summer, the family’s SNAP benefits do not last and they have had to use the local food pantry to get enough food to survive.

Summer Meals

‘Food ought to be a fundamental right’: US Rep. Jim McGovern highlights importance of summer meal programs amid proposed SNAP cuts — Masslive.com, July 30, 2018
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) recently launched his fifth annual Summer Rocks Food Tour with visits to summer meal programs in the state, and said with Congress proposing cuts to SNAP, it is critical to highlight programs fighting childhood hunger. Under the House proposal, “millions of people would lose their SNAP benefits,” he said. “You throw people off SNAP, you reduce the family’s budget and that means the kids won’t get … meals on weekends or on some evenings. Food ought to be a fundamental right in this country, I don’t know why this is such a controversial idea.”

Why aren’t more kids showing up for summer lunch programs? — Sacramento Bee, July 30, 2018
According to a recent FRAC report, California dropped one spot in the national rankings to 14th for state participation in summer nutrition programs, and only four states (Maine, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.) provided summer meals to more than 25 percent of eligible children in 2017. “In order to have a successful summer meal site, there has to be something else happening,” said Clarissa Hayes, a food policy analyst at FRAC. “There can be stigma when going to a meal site so if a community can bill it as a resource for everybody and make it a welcoming environment, then it really does well.”

Oklahoma Nonprofit Labors to Increase Kids Fed in Summer — Youth Today, July 30, 2018
“In some states, there just aren’t enough summer programs [to offer meals],” said Clarissa Hayes, child nutrition policy analyst at FRAC. “There’s also a general lack of awareness of these programs.” A big challenge to reaching children with summer meals in Oklahoma is the fact that the population is spread out, according to Chris Bernard, executive director of Hunger Free Oklahoma. “We’re very interested in partnering with existing summer learning programs,” he said.