More children living in high-poverty neighborhoods following Great Recession

More children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods following the Great Recession – a troubling shift because children in these neighborhoods are a year behind academically, according to new research from researchers at Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin.

“Family Poverty and Neighborhood Poverty: Links With Children’s School Readiness Before and After the Great Recession” examines how neighborhood and family poverty predict children’s academic skills and classroom behavior when they start school, and whether associations have changed over a period of 12 years that included the 2008 recession. The researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and examined cohorts of kindergarteners from across the U.S. in 1998 and 2010.

The research revealed that more children whose parents were not already poor were living in high-poverty neighborhoods following the Great Recession. In 1998, 36 percent of children lived in moderate-low, moderate-high and high-poverty neighborhoods. In 2010, the number rose to 43.9 percent.

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What Do we Think Poverty Looks Like?

Several years ago, during a harsh Detroit winter, I swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps. I wasn’t sure I’d qualify, but I knew three things. I had little money in the bank, little chance of quickly earning more and I needed to eat. So I tried my luck with the government.

I received $16 a month in benefits. By my cynical calculation, the eight hours I had spent applying would pay for itself, at minimum wage, after four months. I was grateful for the help. Usually, my $4 a week bought bacon, which could stretch several batches of beans.

Being broke wasn’t new to me. Food stamps, officially known as SNAP, were. My family had battled medical debt and unemployment when I was a kid, and I started working at 14. When I got a partial college scholarship and left my rural Michigan hometown, I made tuition and rent by juggling up to five jobs at once. I prided myself on never asking for help.

At age 34, though, I faced the awkward, privileged dilemma of a working-class journalist: I’d accepted a book contract to write about poverty, but it turned out to be too small to cover my health insurance and rent. I saw two options. Get a job, return my advance and abandon two years’ worth of work — or somehow continue working on my book without an income.

So food stamps it was. I knew I qualified, but it still felt like there was some kind of mistake. After all, I was a college-educated white woman who worked. I wasn’t “really” poor.

And that raises a thorny political question: Who, exactly, did I think was poor?

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To improve patient diets, the doctor is in … the kitchen

Special Correspondent Allison Aubrey, NPR News Reports

More and more doctors are using the kitchen as a place to prescribe a powerful medicine: healthy food. With poor diets linked to many deaths from preventable diseases, research has found that changing diet and becoming active can be more effective than medication in preventing disease.

“The idea that you can bring doctors and other health care professionals into the kitchen to teach people that changing their diets can actually help them prevent disease is starting to catch on.

…some 500 doctors and health professionals recently got a crash course in how to build food and nutrition into their medical practices. They spent four days sauteeing, slicing and tasting.”

Learn more about this growing trend at

Meals on Wheels is ‘not showing any results’ only if you ignore all these results

 March 16 at 5:10 PM

At a news conference Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief, defended proposed cuts to the Meals on Wheels program, which provides food aid to needy senior citizens, by saying the program is one of many that is “just not showing any results.”

Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit group that receives funding from the federal government, state and local governments and private donors. “We serve more than 2.4 million seniors from 60 to 100+ years old each year,” the organization writes. “They are primarily older than 60 and because of physical limitations or financial reasons, have difficulty shopping for or preparing meals for themselves.”

If that doesn’t clear the bar for “results,” as Mulvaney put it, there’s also been a fair amount of peer-reviewed research on the efficacy of the program.

Continue reading here for more about the research findings

How one Dallas nonprofit is expanding healthy food access, one community garden at a time

It’s not necessarily about the lettuce, tomatoes and carrots. In many ways, gardens are about the good they do for the growers and others. It’s about the community.
That’s what the leaders of community gardens say.

“We all eat. We all make food memories. It’s a very important aspect of who we are,” says Susie Marshall. That aspect of food is very important to the community. It breaks down walls and breaks down barriers.”

Marshall is founder and executive director of GROW North Texas, an organization promoting sustainable local food production and healthy food access. It, in turn, is part of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, which has six programs to help reduce hunger in the Dallas area.

The coalition helps promote meal programs in schools, working to bring food to Dallas schoolchildren and publicizing the summer lunch program. It helps coordinate food programs among faith communities and aids in helping communities organize.

The senior component helps older residents know if they are available for benefits such as SNAP and can help them apply. It also promotes local groups that provide group meals for older residents.

Urban agriculture — growing good food on bits of land in cities as a way of providing healthy food — also is part of the outreach.

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Fixing food deserts with a modern SNAP

To fight back against food deserts, online delivery services will help get healthy foods to low-income families.

The United States Department of Agriculture will begin a pilot program that will allow recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, to use online services to deliver groceries.

The two-year program starts in the summer. Right now, the pilot program is only in certain states. If it goes well, more states should follow.

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Household Food Security in the United States in 2015

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-215) 44 pp, September 2016
by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Matthew Rabbitt, Christian Gregory, and Anita Singh

An estimated 12.7 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2015, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. That is down from 14.0 percent in 2014. The prevalence of very low food security declined to 5.0 percent from 5.6 percent in 2014. Both declines are statistically significant.

You can see a summary or the entire report here:

Poverty Is Going Down In Texas, But Food Stamp Need Isn’t


Although incomes have been rising and poverty declining in Texas, there’s been less change in the share of households relying on food stamps, new U.S. Census data shows.

In 2015, 12.5 percent of Texas households used the program, down from 13.1 percent in 2014. The drop of about 43,000 households was less significant than the overall drops in individual and household poverty from 2014 to 2015. The disparity underscores that economic recovery has not reached all poor people and that the need for food assistance is not limited to those living in poverty, nutrition advocates and researchers said.

People facing the most dire financial circumstances are “probably the ones whose boats are last to rise,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.

“Just the fact that people are on SNAP over the poverty line is an indicator that even over the poverty line people aren’t earning enough to feed their families,” Cole added.

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There’s a Hunger Problem in Every County in America—and It’s Solvable

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than 48 million people in America—including 15 million children—are food-insecure.

Unemployment is the primary driver of food insecurity….without income that comes from a job, people often lack the resources to purchase an adequate amount of food.

…there is considerable food insecurity among families that are ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): More than one-fourth of all food-insecure people live in households with incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level, and thus are ineligible for federal food assistance programs.

Among all people struggling with hunger in the U.S., more than half—56 percent—have incomes above the federal poverty level.

Many stories illustrate the complicated circumstances that push people into a state of food insecurity and, in many cases, anchor them there for years. But by working together and implementing data-driven solutions, we can move closer to creating a hunger-free America.

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