Issue #25, June 29, 2015

Head of state’s problem-plagued economic-aid call center quits – Omaha World-Herald, June 25, 2015
The call center system AccessNebraska, implemented to cut costs and improve the efficiency of SNAP application processing as well as other assistance programs, has been plagued by long wait times, lost documents, and delayed benefits since its start in 2008. USDA earlier this year warned the state that it would lose millions in federal funds if it did not improve SNAP application and benefit processing. The state’s ranking for SNAP application processing timeliness dropped to near last place under AccessNebraska; since October, Nebraska has been working on timeliness and has seen steady improvement.
   
SNAP

Senator from Pa. pushes for expansion of summer meals program – Herald Mail, June 18, 2015
Not reaching 85 percent of eligible children with summer meals is “an abomination and an insult,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), in a conference call with reporters. “That’s a national failure we need to correct.” Casey is supporting legislation to expand summer meal programs, and is working to adjust the current child nutrition act so that communities with 40 percent of children (instead of the current 50 percent) eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch can receive funding for summer meals, and provide funding for mobile meal trucks. In 2014, only 75,000 out of the state’s 850,000 eligible children received summer meals – “a total failure,” said Casey.
   

Only 1 in 6 eligible children utilize the Summer Food Service Program – MSU Extension, June 16, 2015
According to FRAC’s report Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, only 15 percent of children receiving free or reduced-price school lunch also participate in the summer food program. In 2014, though, the program saw its largest increase in the number of children participating since 1993. This seven percent increase is likely due to USDA’s focus on expanding summer meal outreach, improving program policies, and bolstering national, state and local partnerships. USDA also provides resources for individuals and organizations interested in becoming “summer meal champions in their community” through the USDA Summer Meals Toolkit.
   

Mayor celebrates start of free summer meals for youth – Seattle.gov, June 24, 2015
The Seattle, Washington Human Services Department will provide free summer breakfast, lunch and snacks through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program to thousands of the city’s children at more than 100 community sites. “Many school-aged children and working families in Seattle count on free and reduced school lunches during the school year,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who attended a kick-off event. “When school is out, the program can be a big help to those families.” USDA summer meals “provide nutritious meals to children throughout the summer and [help] them return to school ready to learn,” said Jesus Mendoza, Jr., regional administrator, USDA/FNS. Summer food sites and hours can be found at www.seattle.gov/summerfood.
   

For low-income kids, meals aplenty this summer – USA Today, June 24, 2015
Only one in six low-income children received free summer meals in 2014, according to the Food Research and Action Center. This year, the Walmart Foundation is providing grants to seven nonprofit organizations to expand summer meal participation; the grants are expected to assist more than 7,700 communities and help more than one million low-income children access the free meals. One of the biggest barriers to access is transportation, said Stacy McDaniel, technical advisor of Food and Nutrition Support at the YMCA.
   

Poverty increases demand feeding programs – Bryan County News, June 24, 2015
While an additional 18,000 children received summer meals in Georgia between July 2013 and July 2014, the meals still only reached a fraction of the children eligible, according to the Food Research and Action Center. More Georgia children qualified in 2014 for free or reduced-price school meals, putting additional burdens on summer programs attempting to reach these children. Child poverty increased in the state from 20 percent in 2008 to 26.5 percent in 2013, and families continue to struggle with high unemployment rates and stagnant wages.
   

Summer Meals

New York City Schools to Expand Breakfast Program – The New York Times, June 25, 2015
As part of a budget deal announced this week by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the city’s public elementary schools will begin serving breakfast in the classroom to all students this fall. While all students have had access to free breakfast for 10 years, students had to arrive early and eat the meal in the cafeteria, which contributed to the stigma attached to the program. “We know that for children to learn in school, they need to be well nourished and this is why we are so focused on meeting the whole needs of children,” said Devora Kaye of the city’s Department of Education.
   

Breakfast in the Classroom
Alabama drug felons to get welfare benefits after 2 decade ban – Al.com, June 24, 2015
A comprehensive prison reform bill passed during Alabama’s 2015 legislative session will eliminate the ban on SNAP and welfare benefit for felony drug offenders. “We see it as a justice issue,” said Carol Gundlach, policy analyst for Alabama Arise. “You can commit welfare fraud and homicide and still get welfare.” She noted that allowing drug offenders to receive welfare benefits will help them rebuild their lives. “It is really a difficult thing to…stay drug free and rebuild your life when you have absolutely no support,” she said. The Alabama Department of Human Resources does not keep data on how many SNAP and welfare applicants have been denied benefits because of felony drug convictions.
   


SNAP and Drug Felons

“It is really a difficult thing to…stay drug free and rebuild your life when you have absolutely no support.”
Carol Gundlach, Alabama Arise - Al.com, June 24, 2015
   
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