To All Those Interested in Food and Justice...
A (usually) weekly update on food issues, promoting access to sufficient, affordable, healthy food—with a focus on campaigns you can become active in!
March 17th, 2017
Current News and Recent Articles on Hunger
- Trump Budget Goes After Meals on Wheels
- Immigrants Fearing Choice Between Hunger and Deportation
- Op-Ed: Sam Polk: The Case for For-Profit Social Enterprise
- Housing News: Measure H:Venice Housing Proposal: Renters Day: Ellis Act Evictions Map
- March 24 State of the Food Desert Event
- Earth Day South LA: Fundraiser for Community Services Unlimited April 8
- Screening of New Film "Homeless in America" April 10
1. Trump Budget Goes After Meals on Wheels
As you have probably heard, one of the more notable feature of President Trump’s recent budget proposal was to eliminate the Meals on Wheels program---probably the least controversial, most universally supported of all the federal nutrition programs, one with an obvious solution for an obvious need: meals delivered to disabled homebound persons who cannot prepare their own food.
It doesn’t matter that the slashing of Meals on Wheels is not likely to happen. The fact that anyone would even suggest it would trigger suspicions that either a) the person suggesting it is crazy b) is joking or c) has some bizarre, convoluted ulterior motive. Even if the proposal is thought of as a “trial balloon” to see what the reaction would be, or an opening negotiating gambit designed to produce a result that’s not as extreme (but still reduces spending), it is not a logical starting place in any conceivable universe.
Even more outrageous are the comments made by Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney as a justification for the cuts.
First he said Meals on Wheels was being cut because it wasn’t showing results. Um, providing food to people who are homebound is an end in itself. What “results” does Mulvaney expect, that after a year on Meals on Wheels homebound disabled seniors will be able to cook for themselves, maybe even go out and get a job (as a steelworker or coal miner, certainly not as a government employee.)
Then, he told a reporter that he was only looking at one side of the equation if programs were cut---the tremendous harm to beneficiaries and not at the poor souls slaving away only to give their hard earned tax money to those lazy seniors. The federal contribution directly to Meals on Wheels is $248,347 out of an estimated budget of $3.8 trillion. That’s .0000000065% of the federal budget. Compare that to the FY 2017 defense budget of $582.7 billion, which Trump wants to increase by another $54 billion.
Meals on Wheels does have other sources of money besides the federal government. The direct line item above constitutes only 3% of what Meals on Wheels gets in revenue, however, that doesn’t count other hundreds of thousands of dollars received by cities in federal grants that cities choose to spend on Meals on Wheels. So the true calculation of how much federal money supports Meals on Wheels is definitely higher.
In other words, the cuts would not even be noticeable as a speck on the federal budget---but would indeed have an impact on the Meals on Wheels program.
The question now is: Are the warmongering words with North Korea (and by extension China) a distraction from Trump’s massive proposed cuts to domestic programs, or the other way around? Either way, one guy is dominating the news. I’d like to think that’s not what Trump’s voters wanted, and that eventually they’ll long for the days of getting off work in the evening, popping open a beer and NOT seeing vitriolic politics on the tube seven nights a week.
2. Immigrants Fearing Choice Between Hunger and Deportation
Many immigrants who are perfectly legally qualified and eligible to get benefits are choosing to drop out of safety net programs for fear of backlash from an administration that has promised to deport as many as 11 million people.
Greg Kauffman in The Nation Magazine:
As the Trump era unfolds in California, fear of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement crackdown is disrupting the daily lives of immigrants and their families. In a state with 5.4 million non-citizen residents—and where nearly half of all children have at least one immigrant parent—the president’s promise to increase deportations may already be affecting the health and livelihoods of families, even those here legally, by discouraging them from turning to public-assistance programs or from working.
At the Alameda County Community Food Bank in the San Francisco Bay area, 40 families recently requested that their food stamps be cancelled, according to Liz Gomez, ACCFB’s associate director of client services. Another 54 Spanish-speaking households that pre-qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program turned down the opportunity to apply. Gomez says that the combination of a leaked draft executive order suggesting that legal immigrants could be deported for turning to public assistance within their first five years of arrival, as well as local ICE sweeps—and stories about raids and arrests elsewhere—are making immigrants afraid to give their information to service providers.
ACCFB has one of the largest SNAP outreach programs among food banks nationwide. It also provides enough food for 580,000 meals each week through food pantries, soup kitchens, child-care centers, senior centers, after-school programs, and other community-based organizations.
“We are concerned that some people are hesitant to visit a food pantry out of fear that ICE could show up,” said Gomez.
Indeed, Heidi McHugh, community education and outreach coordinator at Food for People in Humboldt County, says they have seen a decline in Latino clients at some sites. The organization runs 14 community food programs including meals for seniors, food pantries, school meal programs, and a mobile produce pantry that travels throughout the county to distribute vegetables. This month, when it stopped in a community that historically turns out 20 or 30 Latino households, only five Latino households showed up.
“We had previous customers drive by without stopping,” said McHugh. “Our pantries in the communities with high proportions of Latino residents say that they are seeing fewer people coming for food.”
Qualifying for Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC can’t currently be used as legal cause for deportation or denying someone citizenship. But people are still afraid, Gomez said, even immigrants with legal status.
Author’s note: Join millions of people around the nation to protect immigrants and refugees and stand up for the values of love, compassion, and family in the #HereToStay Campaign
3. Op-Ed: Sam Polk: The Case for For-Profit Social Enterprise
Sam Polk is the founder of Groceryships, a nonprofit that empowers families to improve health through nutrition, education and emotional support . He also founded Everytable, an innovative restaurant with several LA locations where the price varies according to neighborhood, and where for the cost of a McDonald’s meal you can have a balanced entrée with fresh, healthy ingredients.
Sam recently wrote an op-ed for the LA Times discussing “the challenges of the nonprofit sector, the opportunity of social enterprise, and an underutilized financing tool that could skyrocket the growth of the social enterprise sector. “
“Charities are essential. Many nonprofits do work that simply has no revenue potential, such as feeding and housing the homeless. Yet because nonprofits are hard to start and sustain, where social enterprises can answer social needs, they may be the better alternative. And the proliferation of such entities could inject “disruption” and innovation into the staid nonprofit sector.”
4. Housing News
As housing is a major contributor to hunger especially in Los Angeles, where people are forced to spend food dollars on rent, here are some quick updates on homeless and tenant policy that could have a huge impact here:
Measure H: “Ten days after the election, a measure to raise the sales tax a quarter-percent to fund homeless programs across Los Angeles County was declared a winner Friday with a growing margin over the required two-thirds majority. After counting the last 55,000 ballots, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder reported Friday afternoon that the yes vote for Measure H had climbed to 69.24%.”
“County officials have outlined the basic strategies that would be funded, but they have not yet issued a budget showing the proportions each would receive. Those decisions would be sorted out by a panel of 50 people appointed from county government, cities and the nonprofit world, said Phil Ansell, head of the county’s Homeless Initiative…..The panel’s first meeting is scheduled for March 23…and would consider six main categories: subsidized housing, coordinated outreach and shelters, case management and services, homelessness prevention, income support and preservation of existing housing.
New housing proposal in Venice: A proposed homeless housing development in Venice would provide 68 apartments for artists and low-wage workers. The county’s recently barely passed Measure H might even be a source of funding
Renter’s Day LA April 19: Save the date for Renter’s Day in LA, Wednesday April 19. Activities will include social media posting and messaging among other things. Stay tuned!
Ellis Act Evictions: The City of Los Angeles saw an over 25% increase in landlord and developer applications to evict tenants under the provisions of the state Ellis Act for the year 2016 over 2015.
The Ellis Act, a state law, which undermines local rent control laws, provides landlords the ability to evict tenants in order to remove housing units from the rental market.
The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), in conjunction with the San Francisco-based Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, is releasing a web-based interaction map, showing where 21,200 rent stabilized affordable units have been destroyed in the City of Los Angeles from 2001 through 2016 due to the Ellis Act. The map can be accessed by going to http://bit.ly/EllisEvictionsLA.
AB 982, just introduced by Assembly Members Bloom Assembly Members Richard Bloom and David Chiu, and Senator Allen would provide all tenants, regardless of age or family status, with a one-year notice of eviction. :
5. March 24 State of the Food Desert Event
On March 24th the LA Food Policy Council will host a Network Event on: The State of the "Food Desert": Redefining, Reimagining and Reclaiming Healthy Food Access in LA's Historically Underserved Communities. The event will take place at Phoenix Hall (10950 South Central Ave, Los Angeles CA 90059) from 2:30pm - 5:30pm. There will also be a special food demonstration and book signing from Chef Bryce Fluellen and Gwendolyn Flynn from 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Please note that:
- This event is free and open to the public
- Spanish interpretation will be available
- Food will be provided
- The room is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant
We are striving to ensure that stakeholders most impacted by food access issues are in attendance, and hope that you will share the above information and attached flyers (in both English and Spanish) with community members in your network. To attend the event, please RSVP on our eventbrite or by phone at (323) 739-8340.
We hope to see you there!
COMING IN APRIL 6. Earth Day South LA: Fundraiser for Community Services Unlimited April 8
EARTH DAY SOUTH LA – APRIL 8TH 2pm to 7pm – TAKE BACK THE BLOCK FUNDRAISER
Free Family Event at the Paul Robeson Center 6569 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044
MUSIC - ART - FOOD, COMMUNITY, JUST CHANGE!
This year's Earth Day South LA is our usual family freindly event packed with fun/educational activities spanning many issues pertinent to the heatlh of our planet.
MUSIC: ART: SPECIAL PAUL ROBESON FEATURE: ACTIVITIES & BOOTHS: FOOD & DRINK: VENDORS
Check out more details!
7. Screening of New Film “Homeless in America” April 10
Screening and Fundraiser for new film “Homeless of America” by Mike Miller, formerly homeless in Los Angeles himself:
When: Monday, April 10 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM Where: Zen Studios L.A. 5024 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038