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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Republican Attack on the American Dream – The Atlantic, November 28, 2016
Although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) encourages upward mobility, he has repeatedly proposed cutting SNAP and other federal assistance programs by millions of dollars, claiming these programs hurt financially struggling people in the long run. However, SNAP and other welfare programs have actually helped lower the poverty rate, and researchers have found that these programs help children escape poverty.

Food-stamp cuts contribute to Dollar General’s woes in Q3 – Drug Store News, December 1, 2016
Todd Vasos, CEO of Dollar General, reported that SNAP benefit reductions affected third-quarter performance for the company, as compared to the previous year. States implementing SNAP changes include those with high concentrations of Dollar General stores: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. “The challenging retail environment that we experienced in the 2016 second quarter continued into the third quarter, contributing to weakness in our same-store sales and our financial performance,” said Vasos.

Hunger in Sonoma County a daily reality for thousands – The Press Democrat, November 22, 2016
In California’s Sonoma County in 2015, an estimated 70,000 low-income and working families skipped 34 million meals; they received about 49 million meals through CalFresh (SNAP), school meal programs, WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and food banks, and the meal gap has remained the same for the past three years. According to Karen Fies, director of the human services department, one-fifth of the county receives SNAP benefits, which helped “local, at-risk families buy 31 percent of the needed meals in 2015.”

Should more troops become eligible for food stamps? – San Diego Union-Tribune, November 28, 2016
Military households are relying on food pantries and other charities, and the Military Hunger Prevention Act would help more of these families apply for SNAP benefits. The bill, introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), would exempt the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing when
determining eligibility for SNAP and other federal food programs. The allowance is high enough to disqualify many service members from receiving SNAP. “That has put the burden of feeding financially challenged military families on the private sector,” states an analysis by the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

The Hidden Story of Hunger on Martha’s Vineyard – Vineyard Gazette, November 23, 2016
On the island of Martha’s Vineyard, food, housing, and fuel cost more than on the mainland, and more than 300 households – 576 people – received SNAP benefits in March 2016. At the Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown, about 115 children receive free afterschool snacks, and the number is growing, according to the club’s director. Elderly islanders, small children, and single parents are the island residents most vulnerable to food insecurity.

California works to help food-stamp recipients buy fresh produce – San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2016
A California bill last year set aside $5 million to tap into federal matching funds that expand the buying power of SNAP recipients when they use their benefits to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The state is now applying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a matching grant, and expects to hear in March or April whether or not it is approved. Currently, several programs in the state offer incentives to SNAP recipients when they use their benefits at farmer’s markets.

Local RSVP to assist with senior SNAP program – The News Courier, November 16, 2016
The National Association of RSVP Directors will help connect older adults to SNAP through the National Council on Aging’s free online BenefitsCheckUp tool; RSVP is one of more than 30 community organizations expanding efforts to help seniors apply for SNAP. Millions of Americans 65 and older live on a fixed income yet face rising food costs — and those that rely on Social Security received just a 0.3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment increase this year.

Watch the FRAC Video: How to Solve Hunger in America, featuring the many benefits the federal nutrition programs provide for the people they serve.

Breakfast in the Classroom

Food for thought: Dallas-area schools bring breakfast to the classroom – Dallas News, November 28, 2016
According to FRAC, nearly half of U.S. students eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not participate in the program. A consortium of organizations, Partners in Breakfast for the Classroom, is offering grants to increase participation by encouraging schools in 10 states, including Texas, to begin offering breakfast in the classroom. Currently, all Dallas school district schools offer breakfast in the classroom, and have offered free breakfast to all students since 2013.

New option available for Nebraska schools in breakfast program – Star Herald, November 29, 2016
Nebraska is one of 10 states eligible for grants to expand school breakfast participation through the breakfast in the classroom program. The grants, funded by Walmart and made available through Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, will help make breakfast available to all students. “This will take away the stigma of who is eating and who isn’t,” said Nancy Fulton, president of the Nebraska State Education Association. FRAC is a member of the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom consortium.

Feeding minds – Meridian Star, November 25, 2016
Mississippi schools are now eligible for grants, through Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (which includes FRAC), to help institute breakfast in the classroom programs. According to Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, the association is using its membership, including teachers in different districts, to encourage principals and superintendents to participate in the program.

Dorothy McAuliffe: Hunger does not take a holiday – Loudoun Times-Mirror, November 23, 2016
While more than 530,000 Virginia students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, over half do not receive school breakfast, although one in six students don’t have regular access to food at home, writes Dorothy McAuliffe, first lady of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in this op-ed. Last year, more than 340 Virginia schools transitioned to Breakfast After the Bell, and 5 million more breakfasts were served to students in 2015 than in 2014. McAuliffe encourages more schools to begin Breakfast After the Bell programs.

Assistance Access

Pa. Department of Human Services prepares to launch mobile app – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 28, 2016
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to launch an app in December, which will allow clients to electronically submit verification and identity documents, such as pay stubs, by taking a picture of such documents and submitting them through the app. “We know that a lot of our folks have mobile devices, but a lot smaller number have desktop computers,” said Ted Dallas, secretary of DHS. Massachusetts and Texas have instituted similar apps.

Poverty in the U.S.

Poverty Should Be Measured By More Than Just Income – WABE, November 28, 2016
Between 2008 and 2013, about 13 percent of Americans, and nearly 20 percent of Georgia residents, were living in poverty, according to Georgia Tech researchers studying U.S. Census data. When the researchers took health, education, and housing into account, they found that nearly 30 percent of people slightly above the poverty line experienced deprivations. “We are identifying a large population which may not fall below the income poverty, but they are facing multiple deprivations in their lives,” said Dr. Shatakshee Dhongde, a Georgia Tech economist studying the data.

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