Dallas launches unique challenge to solve food inequities

The City of Dallas Office of Innovation, in partnership with the Communities Foundation of Texas, is seeking creative ideas to increase access to
local, nutritious and affordable food options for all Dallas residents.

The Food Idea Innovation Challenge gives Dallas residents the
opportunity to submit ideas and solutions on how the City can work
towards solving food inequities in their communities. Ultimately, it will
aid the City’s efforts in having better food access, healthier food choices,more locally-grown food and reduce food waste.

Click the link below to submit your ideas!

U.S. Income Inequality Worsens, Widening To A New Gap

The gap between the richest and the poorest U.S. households is now the largest it’s been in the past 50 years — despite the median U.S. income hitting a new record in 2018, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

U.S. income inequality was “significantly higher” in 2018 than in 2017, the federal agency says in its latest American Community Survey report. The last time a change in the metric was deemed statistically significant was when it grew from 2012-2013.

While many states didn’t see a change in income inequality last year, the income gap grew wider in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.

The disparity grew despite a surging national economy that has seen low unemployment and more than 10 years of consecutive GDP growth.

The most troubling thing about the new report, says William M. Rodgers III, a professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University, is that it “clearly illustrates the inability of the current economic expansion, the longest on record, to lessen inequality.”

Read more here.

Trump administration rule could end free school lunches for about 500,000 children

About a half-million students could lose access to free school meals under a Trump administration proposal to limit the number of people who qualify for food stamps, drawing protests from congressional Democrats who say it could harm needy schoolchildren.

The change, proposed over the summer, would cut an estimated 3 million people from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. It is intended to eliminate eligibility for people who get food stamps because they have qualified for other forms of government aid, even though they may have savings or other assets.

But the impact of the cuts is anticipated to go further: Children in those households could also lose access to free school lunches, since food stamp eligibility is one way students can qualify for the lunches.

Read more here.

80 people went to Dallas emergency rooms 5,139 times in a year — usually because they were lonely

It is estimated that emergency room visits cost Parkland Hospital $14 million in a 12-month period. “Poverty and food shortage are factors for the frequent visits,” but so is loneliness.

Learn more at the link below:

Attorneys General Sue Trump Administration Over School Nutrition Rollbacks

A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the Trump administration for weakening the federal nutrition standards for school meals that are fed to about 30 million children across the country.

“Over a million children in New York — especially those in low-income communities and communities of color — depend on the meals served daily by their schools to be healthy, nutritious, and prepare them for learning,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Joining James in the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont.

As we’ve reported, last year the Trump administration gave school lunch administrators more flexibility in serving up refined grains, including white breads, biscuits and white pastas. The move weakened standards set during the Obama administration aimed at serving more nutritious and fiber-dense whole grains, which are a key part of a healthy diet.

In addition, the Trump administration put the brakes on targets to reduce the amount of salt allowed in school meals. At the time, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrote: “If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted.”

Read more below:

To Curb Kids’ Sugary Drink Habits, Pediatricians Now Call For Soda Taxes

Pediatricians have long warned parents about the risks of consuming too many sugary drinks — including the link to Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Now, the nation’s leading group of kids’ doctors, the American Academy of Pediatrics, together with the American Heart Association, has endorsed a range of strategies designed to curb children’s consumption — including taxes on sugary drinks, limits on marketing sugary drinks to kids and financial incentives to encourage healthier beverage choices.

“For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink,” says Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and the lead author of the new joint policy statement. By one estimate, kids and teens get about 17 percent of their calories from added sugars — and about half of those calories come from drinks.

1 in 10 senior households relies on food stamps

Many older Americans are struggling to keep food on the table.

One in 10 households with seniors aged 60 and older receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also called food stamps, according to a study released Wednesday by the anti-poverty nonprofit Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), in collaboration with AARP Foundation.

U.S. Census Bureau data from all 3,142 counties in the nation show the rate of senior SNAP usage remains largely consistent for all kinds of counties, the analysis found. Some 10% of senior homes in metropolitan areas, 10% of those in small towns, and 11% of those in rural areas participate in SNAP. However, out of the 50 counties with SNAP participation above 25%, 75% were rural and only 15% were metropolitan.

The number of elderly SNAP beneficiaries is likely to increase in the coming years as baby boomers age and continue to face unique financial challenges. Rent has grown faster than wages over the past two years, according to numbers from the Labor Department released in July, and health-care premiums have risen from an average of $6,000 per year in 1999 to $18,000 in 2016, an Economic Policy Institute study found.

Continue reading here –

Dallas health non-profits have a new tool in their fight to increase food access

In the fight to increase food access in Dallas, area health nonprofits have a new weapon that will help them identify where Dallas faces the most urgent needs.

The City of Dallas Community Food Assessment, an interactive map that highlights key data like the concentration of diseases such as obesity and diabetes, was presented Friday at the seventh annual Dallas Hunger Summit, where dozens of area nutrition nonprofits gathered to listen to what Dallas’ hospital health systems and other health groups are doing to serve Dallas’ neediest.

Heather Lepeska, a manager at the City of Dallas’ Office of Economic Development, said during the presentation to about 200 attendees that the map took about a year to develop from data sources from the city, county, state and federal levels.

“We all have really good information and data on food access, hunger and health as it relates to what our interest areas are, but we hadn’t really coordinated and consolidated it into a document to give us a comprehensive snapshot of what we have here today,” Lepeska said.

The map highlights five key areas by ZIP code: concentration of grocery stores, community gardens, supplemental nutrition opportunities, income, and health indicators. It allows users, for example, to compare diabetes and obesity rates in north and south Dallas. It also shows things like how many grocery stores, corner stores and dollar stores are in a given ZIP code.

Read more here http://

North Texas Food Bank’s new facility hopes to be a hub for a fresh distribution model

The North Texas Food Bank is leaving a longtime distribution location at the heart of North Texas’ urban poverty center in southern Dallas — and it’ll be a blessing for the hungry people around it, the organization says.

The new Perot Family Campus in Plano, opening in September, will serve as the group’s main distribution center. Part of the food bank’s 10-year, $55 million Stop Hunger Build Hope campaign, the facility doubles the space and triples the refrigerated storage of the current location.

The 230,000-square-foot warehouse at the Bush Turnpike and Coit Road also has four times as many loading docks, allowing more perishable food to be delivered and shipped out before hitting peak ripeness. It’ll be more energy efficient, too, with insulated flooring and loading docks, according to the food bank’s chief executive and president, Trisha Cunningham.

The other half of the 10-year plan dedicates about $24 million to more than 260 partner agencies so they can focus on replacing shelf-stable staples with the fresh produce and proteins often lacking in low-income diets. The money can go to anything from energy bills to adding pantry space.

“I think there is a fallacy out there that, ‘Oh well if [the food bank] is leaving South Dallas they don’t really care about South Dallas,'” Cunningham said. “It’s really irrelevant where our facilities are because we can serve those 260 partner agencies from wherever.”


Read more about it at the link below: