Issue #30, August 4, 2015

Quote of the Week
“Delinking Medicaid and WIC puts untold numbers of women and children at risk for food insecurity and preventable health problems, and it raises the administrative costs of signing up families for both programs.”
Martha M Edwards, M.D.,
The State, July 15, 2015


How to Get Food to More People Who Need It
– AARP Blog, July 16, 2015
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that 20 government and nonprofit organizations – including senior centers and Meals on Wheels - will allow utilization of SNAP benefits for seniors to pay for grocery delivery. This could help nearly one million seniors, who would otherwise not use SNAP benefits, access food. USDA will soon publish a request for applications to select the eligible entities. SNAP use by seniors could lead to decreased hospitalizations, fewer emergency room calls, fewer medical expenses, and allow people to stay in their homes longer, said Vilsack.

Going after food stamp recipients is shameful – Journal Interactive, July 15, 2015
After an unexpected job loss a few years back, Maria Gaie Beyer, a lawyer and nonprofit board member, applied for SNAP benefits. She implemented her own restrictions on purchases, including no junk food, except for school functions, she writes in this op-ed. Now Wisconsin is proposing drug testing for recipients, as well as attempting to institute food purchase restrictions. The state Department of Human Services says food restrictions will cost the state $12.6 million – money better spent in investing in the health and well-being of families.

Rauner signs bill broadening eligibility for food stamps – Northwest Herald, July 28, 2015
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation raising the SNAP Program income limit from 130 percent to 165 percent of the poverty line. The change will bring an estimated additional $60 million in federal dollars to the state, according to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan Supports Fight against Food Insecurity in Washington – Businesswire, July 27, 2015
A USDA grant through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Project to the Washington State Department of Health, coupled with funding from UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, will enable 58 farmers’ markets in five Washington counties provide SNAP recipients and people on Medicaid with information on nutrition, diet and exercise. Assistance recipients who meet with staff of Federally Qualified Health Centers will receive a voucher for a bag of produce at a local farmer’s market.

The remarkably high odds you’ll be poor at some point in your life – The Washington Post, July 24, 2015
Mark Rank, a sociologist at Washington University, found through a survey titled “The Panel Study of Income Dynamics” that by the time they are 60 years old, four in five people experience some kind of economic hardship – unemployment, reliance on government programs like SNAP, or lived for a time close to or in poverty. If more people recognized that the poor are not “other people,” Rank suggests, there might be even greater public support for programs that aid the poor.

A pathway to higher ed for low-income students – The News Tribune, July 28, 2015
The Urban Institute found that many low-income families don’t know that college financial aid is available, don’t know how to navigate the system and believe college costs more than it does. However, making them aware of the aid that is available can provide an incentive for students from poor families to concentrate on their studies. Programs such as SNAP, Medicaid and the federal income tax filing process were found to be the most promising ways of helping families know about financial aid, since these programs assist so many eligible families.


Edwards: WIC-Medicaid Partnership Creates Healthier Children
– The State, July 15, 2015
A proposal Congress is considering as it reauthorizes the federal child nutrition programs would separate WIC eligibility from Medicaid eligibility. “I urge Rep. Joe Wilson, who serves on the House Education and Workforce Committee, to keep WIC strong” by maintaining the link between the two programs, writes pediatrician Martha M Edwards, M.D. in this letter to the editor. “Delinking Medicaid and WIC puts untold numbers of women and children at risk for food insecurity and preventable health problems, and it raises the administrative costs of signing up families for both programs,” Edwards notes.

Homelessness, Poverty and Economic Hardship

Number of homeless families in Boston up 25%
- Boston Globe, July 14, 2015
In February there were 1,543 homeless families in Boston, a 25 percent increase over the year before, according to FamilyAid Boston. “My agency…is seeing many, many families with working parents who still can’t afford rent in the Greater Boston area,” said Shannon Arnold, a spokeswoman for the organization. Stagnant wages, and increased housing and child care costs are contributing factors to the increase.

Inequality and Poverty

The states where children are most likely to be locked up, poor and hungry
– The Washington Post, July 29, 2015
The latest report on the well-being of America’s children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that the 10 lowest-ranked states were in the South or West; Mississippi ranked last, while Minnesota ranked first. In addition, roughly one in three Mississippi and New Mexico children lives in poverty, and children in much of the South are more likely to live in families experiencing food insecurity. Children in the Northeast are most likely to live in a family without a vehicle.

New Orleans Katrina Pain Index at 10: Who Was Left Behind – Huffington Post, July 20, 2015
In spite of the billions poured into Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ poor and working people still struggle. The number of children in the city living in poverty increased from 38 percent in 2005 (17 percentage points higher than the US) to, most recently, 39 percent. The primary cause of this increase is low wages, as 82 percent of these families have a working member. Also, half of the city’s Black children live in poor households, more than when Katrina struck the city. And 9,000 fewer families are receiving SNAP benefits.

This map shows how red states increase inequality and blue states cut it – Vox, July 6, 2015
Federal researchers estimated how state taxes (sales tax, income tax and motor fuel tax) affected inequality from 1984 to 2011, and found that the states doing the most to fight inequality tended to have progressive income taxes, whereas states without income taxes tended to make inequality worse. They also found that a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit helped cut inequality significantly.

Obesity Trends

Americans Are Finally Eating Less
– The New York Times, July 24, 2015
The number of calories the average child in the U.S. eats daily has fallen by at least nine percent, and the amount of full-calorie soda adults drink has fallen 25 percent since the late 1990s. Along with the declines, it looks like obesity rates have stopped rising for adults and school age children, and decreased for the youngest children, which suggests that calorie reductions are working. However, more than a third of American adults are still obese, and consumption of fruits and vegetables remains low while dessert consumption remains high. People are, overall, eating a bit less of everything.

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