News

End Summer Child Hunger Now!

Spring is almost in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Millions of children in America can’t wait for summer vacation, but for millions of poor children who rely on school meals it’s a mixed blessing.

I qualify for free and reduced lunch. I can get a free breakfast, I can get like a muffin, juice, anything like that, in the morning, and then lunch, I don’t have to pay, so I can get whatever I wanted for lunch. So I’ve always been able to eat at school for lunch and breakfast.

Linda Ransom is a Columbus, Ohio high school senior and the winner of aChildren’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® scholarship whose family struggles to make ends meet. When Linda was seven her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the medical crisis led to a family financial crisis. Linda’s mother lost her job, and with a mountain of medical bills is still trying to catch up ten years later. They’ve been homeless for stretches of time. Food has often been beyond their means. Linda says, “If we didn’t have any food at home, I knew I could get some at school, and sometimes I could take a couple things from the breakfast line and I could just save it for later, so when I got home, if I was hungry, I could eat it.”

Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation and poor children like Linda who rely on free and reduced price breakfast and lunch during the school year to keep the wolves of hunger at bay face a long summer of food deprivation. It was hard without school during the summer, but being able to qualify for something like food stamps or having a food pantry near us, that helped a lot,” Linda says, but at the end of the month, “it was kind of like a hit-or-miss kind of situation.”

Read more here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/end-summer-child-hunger-n_b_9705540.html

The controversial reason tens of thousands of people just lost their food stamps

As many as 1 million Americans will stop receiving food stamps over the course of this year beginning on Friday, the consequence of a controversial work mandate that has been reinstated in 22 states as the economy improves.

The 20-year-old rule — which was suspended in many states during the economic recession — requires that adults without children or disabilities must have a job in order to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for more than three months, with some exceptions. Many states have begun to reimpose the federal rule as the economy recovers, with the largest group reviving it at the beginning of this year. As a result, many recipients’ three-month limit expires today, April 1.

The change has reignited a fierce debate between conservative leaders, who say waiving the mandate discourages people from working, and their liberal counterparts, who say the three-month time limit ignores the reality that jobs are still hard to come by for low-skilled workers.

Learn more here: http://wpo.st/w4RR1

Low-income families having children with special health care needs at high risk for food insecurity

Low-income families with children who have special health care needs are at high risk for food insecurity, even when they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and participate in public assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). According to a new study led by researchers from Children’s Health Watch at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and published online ahead of print in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, there is a need to re-evaluate criteria determining qualifications for nutritional assistance in families with children with special health care needs in order to decrease the risk of food insecurity.

Children with chronic health, physical, developmental, and behavioral conditions are classified as having “special health care needs” (SHCN); a 2011 report indicated that 11.4 percent of children in the US under the age of 5 fall into that category. These children often require significant medical care and assistance as well as specific, and often expensive, diets, which can be a considerable financial burden for low-income families. This may lead to household food insecurity, defined as the inability to afford enough food for an active and healthy life for all household members; or child food insecurity, a severe form of food insecurity when resources in the household are so constrained that children’s meals need to be skipped or include less expansive and lower quality (thus less nourishing) foods.

For example, a low-income family with a child with SHCN that has expensive nutritional or formula requirements due to diabetes or a neurological impairment may not qualify for a SNAP benefit that meets the cost of these extra health-related needs. Therefore the family may need to cut back on healthy food options in order to compensate for the increased nutritional expenses for that child, resulting in the family experiencing food insecurity.

Read more: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160210/Low-income-families-having-children-with-special-health-care-needs-at-high-risk-for-food-insecurity.aspx

Income Gap in Dallas Growing

The income gap continues to grow between affluent Americans and those struggling to get by, with Dallas households near the top of the scale earning more than 12 times as much as those broadly defined as the “working poor,” according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.

The study compared household income of those in the 95th percentile — about $220,000 in Dallas — with those in the 20th percentile, roughly $18,000 a year, said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings and deputy director of its metropolitan policy program.

The growing disparity isn’t just about rising incomes for upper-class households, Berube said, but rather about shrinking paychecks in poorer households, whose incomes remain 13 percent below levels prior to the recession of 2007-09.

“Eighty-five percent of the people we see have a job, but they make a wage that isn’t sufficient and they’re having their hours cut constantly,” said Tracy Eubanks, chief executive officer of Metrocrest Services, which serves families and the elderly in Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Addison, Coppell and parts of Dallas. “These are people with jobs, barely getting by, often on the brink of being evicted.”

To continue reading: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20160114-income-gap-in-dallas-growing-study-says.ece

What happens when a family runs out of food stamps

Toward the end of every month, hospitals in California see a curious uptick in admissions for hypoglycemia, the kind of low blood sugar that can affect diabetics. The pattern, detected in a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, is almost entirely driven by low-income patients. The non-poor don’t show much change in admissions at all.

The researchers suspect this trend may point to an underlying challenge for the poor: Food stamps, given out in a lump sum at the start of each month, run out for many families before they reach the end of it. Grocery stores in poor neighborhoods often report a rise in business when food stamps are electronically debited, and hospitals may see the result when they run out.

That paper, led by Hilary Seligman, is one of several relatively new studies suggesting that the level of food assistance we give families — the average family of three gets $374 a month — isn’t enough for a month’s worth of meals.

To learn more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/09/what-happens-when-a-family-runs-out-of-food-stamps/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_foodstamps_wb_1145am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

New Federal Rules Will Better Protect Farmworkers From Harmful Pesticides

“We depend on farm workers every day… they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections.”

(Reuters) – An estimated 2 million U.S. farm workers, children and others who work or live near farm fields will have more protection from hazardous pesticides under changes unveiled Monday by federal officials.

The changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard should reduce the risk of injury and illnesses from contact with pesticides on farms and in forests, nurseries and greenhouses, according to officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Labor.

“We depend on farm workers every day… they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

Each year, between 1,800 and 3,000 occupational incidents involving pesticide exposure are reported from the farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses covered by the Worker Protection Standard, the EPA said. That range is thought to be lower than the actual number of incidents that occur, the agency said.

The EPA said it is additionally concerned about low level, repeated exposure to pesticides that may contribute to chronic illness as well.

Learn more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/epa-farmworkers-pesticides_5609a0ebe4b0af3706dd66d9

More than 1 in 7 Americans in Food Insecure Households in 2014

More than 48.1 million Americans lived in households that were struggling against hunger in 2014, according to new data on food insecurity released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The 2014 numbers were a slight decline (of fewer than a million people) from 2013, with the rate declining from 15.8 to 15.4 percent.

Learn more: http://frac.org/more-than-1-in-7-americans-in-food-insecure-households-in-2014/

Food Insecure Children Are More Likely To Be Obese

It’s a contradiction in the starkest terms. The nation’s most food-insecure children are also at the greatest risk for childhood obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association in September.

The study surveyed more than 7,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18, finding that participants from the most food insecure households — defined in the study as having “marginally low,” “low,” and “very low” food security — were 33 to 44 percent more likely to be overweight and 1.5 times more likely to be obese.

Obesity is linked to a host of health problems, including a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems, as well as psychological problems such as stigmatization and low self-esteem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food security as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” People who do not have access to enough food for a healthy, active life are considered food insecure. Fourteen percent of U.S. households qualify as food insecure at some point during the year, a number that rises to almost 20 percent among households with children, according a 2013 USDA report.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/food-insecurity-linked-to-child-obesity_55eefd6be4b03784e276821b

Find the report here: http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2432876

I have a Master’s degree and a full-time job — and I’m still applying for food stamps

August 12, 2015

In 2010, 20.7 percent of New York City residents received SNAP benefits, while 63 percent of St. Louis residents (and 63 percent of children in that city) depended on the program. The cost of living rose in June for the fifth consecutive month, driven in large part by skyrocketing rents in U.S. cities. Nico Lang, in this op-ed, writes that he has had to apply for SNAP in New York City because of high rent, “steep student loan bills,” and the city’s daily cost of living – even though he has a full time job. He grew up on SNAP, relied on the program in college, and hoped he would be off the program once he got a full-time job.

Read more about who’s on food stamps: http://theweek.com/articles/569285/have-masters-degree-fulltime-job–im-still-applying-food-stamps