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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

20% of New York drivers for apps like Uber have had to rely on food stamps (Business Insider, June 7, 2019)
Data from The Center for New York City Affairs shows that 20% of New York City app-based drivers required benefits like SNAP to make ends meet. The Economic Policy Institute found that Uber decreased U.S. driver pay to between $9 and $11 per hour in 2018; taxi drivers in big cities were making between $12 and $17 an hour before Uber entered the market. In addition, JP Morgan Chase research found that the average monthly pay from ride-sharing apps decreased by half between 2013 and 2018.

MIT Study: High Fares Limit Low-Income Households’ Mobility (Mass Streets Blog, June 10, 2019)
MIT researchers analyzed the effects of discounted MBTA fares on Boston-area participants from households receiving SNAP. They found that those who received the discounted fares took about 30 percent more trips per week on public transit than the control group that did not receive discounted fares and were more likely to use transit to get to healthcare and social service appointments. The study also showed that these riders were more likely to ride during off-peak hours. Transit agencies had been concerned that offering discounted fares would cause overcrowding.

School Meal Debt

Students are being shamed and punished over lunch debt, and it may take legislation to stop it (The Boston Globe, June 17, 2019)
Legislation pending in the Massachusetts House and Senate would bar school district employees from singling out students with meal debt and denying them meals; the legislation would also require schools to frequently check state databases to make sure all students qualifying for free school meals are receiving them. Students “shouldn’t be put in the middle of meal debt, and they shouldn’t be forced to go hungry during the school day,” said Pat Baker, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and head of a 2018 study that analyzed the range of tactics schools in the state use to recoup meal costs. The study also found that one-quarter of schools in the state with 20 percent or more economically disadvantaged students did not have a publicly posted meal charge policy. “There’s so much medical research that kids learn better when they’re fed,” said Baker. We should be finding a way to make sure they are fed and make meal debt an adult-only problem to solve.”

Breakfast in the Classroom

‘Mama Mia’ actress Amanda Seyfried decries de Blasio’s proposed $6M cut to classroom breakfast (NY Daily News, June 6, 2019)
New York City Mayor de Blasio’s latest budget proposal contains a $6 million cut to the Breakfast in the Classroom program. While all schools currently in the program will still participate in the coming year, the cut means that only 164 new schools will join the program instead of another 189 schools. “This will make it harder for schools to ensure students are getting the vital fuel their growing brains and bodies need to succeed,” said actress Amanda Seyfried, who joined anti-hunger organizations and dozens of City Council members in criticizing the proposal.

Summer Food Service Program

Central Minnesota’s growing efforts to feed hungry children over the summer (St. Cloud Times, June 9, 2019)
There are now about 80 free summer meal sites in St. Cloud, Minnesota, up from 40 two years ago. “A lot of the kids that kind of count on those meals and the families that count on those meals during the school year are left out during the summer,” said Christine Kustelski, of the southside Boys & Girls Club of Central Minnesota. Nearly 62 percent of St. Cloud’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, and some schools have more than 90 percent eligible. Across the state, there are now more than 1,000 summer meal sites, a number that has more than doubled over the past decade.

Free summer meals for kids by texting ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 (St. Louis American, June 7, 2019)
“Only 1 in 12 Missouri children, or 9.7 percent, who would benefit from a summer meals program, actually participates,” said Kristen Wild, executive director of Operation Food Search. “A lot of these kids are heavily reliant on free and reduced breakfast and lunch at school, and when that is not available to them, they could otherwise skip a lot of meals throughout the summer.” Operation Food Search has goal this summer of serving 100,000 meals to children in their operating area.

Howard-Suamico School District offers free summer lunch program (WFRV, June 10, 2019)
Wisconsin’s Howard-Suamico School District is offering free summer lunch to children for the first time this summer, and expects serve 400 children each weekday until August 23. About 1,100 of the districts 6,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. “Every community has kids that are in need and I think this is one way to get to meet those needs of kids and give them nutritious lunches,” said Kristin Ashely, principal at Howard Elementary School.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Sen. Casey urges extending WIC assistance for kids until age 6 to address preschool gap (WFMZ, June 11, 2019)
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is working on legislation that would extend WIC assistance for children through age six. Currently, children don’t qualify for the program after age five, when they are supposed to being school and start receiving school breakfast and lunch. However, Casey’s office estimates that 25 percent of children begin kindergarten after they’re five and half years old, and are from households with incomes falling below the federal poverty line. “No child should be placed at a nutritional disadvantage simply because of when their birthday falls,” said Casey.

College Student Hunger

Southern California student-led initiatives show promise for colleges grappling with homelessness (Edsource, June 10, 2019)
California State University was one of the first public university systems in the country to research student food and housing insecurity, finding that nearly 11 percent of students at CSU campuses reported being homeless at least once in the year before the study. The University of California system has now incorporated food and housing security questions into system-wide surveys. According to the California Budget and Policy Institute, financial aid only covers a fraction of student food and housing expenses, with students compensating by cutting spending on food in order to pay for books.

From FRAC Chat

It’s Time to Build on SNAP’s Effectiveness for Disaster Recovery (FRAC Chat, June 14, 2019)
June, the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane season, is a good time to highlight disaster preparedness and the role of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in helping to reduce hunger and food insecurity before, during, and after a disaster. There are several recent examples of SNAP helping to maintain access to nutritious food for families and communities in disaster situations. In 2017, in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) provided SNAP replacement benefits to more than 2.4 million households. In 2018, FNS-approved SNAP benefits for disaster victims totaled more than $1.4 billion.

New FRAC Report Elevates Community Eligibility as a Key to Hunger-Free Schools (FRAC Chat, June 12, 2019)
Participation in community eligibility — a powerful tool for high-need schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students while eliminating the need for families to fill out school meal applications — is growing across the nation, according to a new FRAC report released this month. Community Eligibility: The Key to Hunger-Free Schools, School Year 2018–2019 shows that nearly 13.6 million children in nearly 28,500 schools across the country (64 percent of all eligible schools) are using the provision in the 2018–2019 school year.

Mission Possible: FRAC Finds the Connection (FRAC Chat, June 10, 2019)
This post was originally published on May 22 as a part of the Mission Possible blog series from Nonprofit VOTE and Independent Sector. The series explores “the different ways a variety of nonprofits are embedding voter engagement into their work.”