FRAC WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST
Issue #34, August 29, 2016
Quote of the Week
“More must be done to increase participation in school breakfast and school lunch, and other federal nutrition programs, so millions more children can reap the benefits that support their health and learning.”
Jim Weill, FRAC, August 23, 2016
School Meals and Healthy Children
Latest Research Shows School Meals Improve Food Security, Dietary Intake, and Weight Outcomes, says Food Research & Action Center – FRAC, August 23, 2016
“Research clearly shows that school meals support the growth and development of our nation’s most vulnerable children,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “More must be done to increase participation in school breakfast and school lunch, and other federal nutrition programs, so millions more children can reap the benefits that support their health and learning.”
Celebrating Progress: Back to School 2016-17 – USDA Blog, August 24, 2016
“[M]illions of low-income children are now guaranteed access to meals at school through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP),” writes Dr. Katie Wilson, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in this blog post. “Close to 8.5 million students from more than 18,000 schools across the country participated in the program in school year 2015-16.” Wilson also notes that school breakfast participation increased 32 percent, from 10.5 million in FY 2008 to more than 14 million in FY 2015, and student fruit and vegetable consumption increased 16 percent.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Long waits, hot temps at Livingston Parish disaster food stamp site – The Advocate, August 22, 2016
Eight parishes affected by recent floods in Louisiana began offering residents the opportunity to sign up for Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits through the state’s Department of Child and Family Services. Long waits were the norm at a few of the signup sites, where churches offered meals to those waiting in line, while waits were shorter in other locations. D-SNAP offers SNAP benefits to people who don’t usually receive food stamps, but need help buying food because of a recent disaster. Unless they are at the maximum household limit for benefits, current SNAP recipients in the disaster areas can get supplemental D-SNAP benefits; in some of those disaster areas, the supplemental payments are automatically loaded onto the households' Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. Find out more at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Louisiana D-SNAP page.
States follow Maine in declining federal funds for food stamps – Bangor Daily News, August 26, 2016
Seven states* this year ended waivers allowing able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to receive SNAP benefits. The waivers were part of the 2009 economic stimulus bill. At the same time, SNAP recipient numbers are falling, partly because of the improving economy, but also because ABAWDs are being cut from SNAP.
*Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey.
Welfare to Work? How people are faring 20 years after welfare reform – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 22, 2016
August 22, 2016, is the 20-year anniversary of the signing of the Personal Opportunity and Work Opportunity Act, or “welfare reform,” which provided states with money via block grants to fund the new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. States do not have to spend their block grant money on direct cash assistance to the poor. Although welfare caseloads plummeted after the bill was signed, caseloads barely increased during the recession, in spite of widespread job losses and economic hardship. SNAP, however, increased in participation during the recession. A recent report by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia criticized Pennsylvania’s welfare program, noting that it helps too few families and its benefit amounts are meager and difficult to get.
Dollar-Store Chains Tumble After Food-Stamp Cuts Hurt Sales – Bloomberg, August 25, 2016
SNAP participation decreased nine percent in May 2016 from the program’s 2012 peak, with 43.5 million Americans participating in the program. “Retail food deflation and a reduction in both SNAP participation rates and benefit levels ... proved to be stronger than expected headwinds to our business,” said Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos in a statement. SNAP participation rates are falling in part because some states are ending benefits earlier than required for some able-bodied SNAP recipients who were receiving benefits through the 2009 federal stimulus bill.
Food stamp use on the rise in Nebraska, unlike in Iowa and rest of U.S. – Omaha World-Herald, August 23, 2016
While the number of households receiving SNAP benefits declined 8.4 percent nationwide in April, the decline was only three percent in Nebraska, where low wages are sending people struggling economically into the program, and better outreach is helping more eligible people sign up. Many of the food pantry clients at Heartland Hope Mission in Omaha also receive SNAP, although their benefits often don’t last the month.
Millions of Kids Who Need Summer Meals Aren’t Getting Them. But Experts Have Some New Ideas – The 74 Million, August 17, 2016
Although 21.5 million U.S. children are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, only one out of six of them participates in the Summer Food Service Program, according to FRAC. “A lot of the groups that we work with — The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA, the parks and recs — they’re running summer programs as well as after-school programs,” said FRAC’s Crystal FitzSimons. “It would be a lot easier to allow them to feed children through the Summer Food Service Program year round instead of having to operate two child nutrition programs with slightly different rules that require kind of a beginning and an end point for the programs.”
Farmers Markets Bring Farm-Fresh Foods & Fun to Summer Meals – USDA Blog, August 12, 2016
This blog post highlights farmers markets across the country that currently serve as sponsors for the Summer Food Service Program. The Winooski Farmers Market in Vermont piloted summer meal sites at Winooski and St. Johnsbury farmers markets, and extended free summer meals to weekend days. In Macon, Georgia, the Mulberry Farmers Market operated a summer meals site for this first year this summer, in addition to its seventh year of operation as a year-round farmers market.
Is the shift to permanent housing making L.A.’s homelessness problem even worse? – LA Times, August 15, 2016
Permanent housing for the homeless has been embraced by experts as the best approach to ending homelessness. Yet, as more money is shifted toward providing permanent housing, programs combining services with short term money are struggling with reduced funding. In Los Angeles, the number of people actually living on the street increased by about 1,400 between 2015 and 2016, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which attributes the increase partly to the loss of beds that were cut by funding or became permanent housing.