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!
July 17th, 2017:
Taken from the new Food Justice News list serve.
1. State Anti Hunger Legislation: Support the College Hunger Bill
Please call the Governor 916 445 2841 and ask him to sign Assembly Bill 214 (Weber) which builds upon previous legislation to address the growing crisis of hunger on California’s college campuses. According to California State University (CSU), 24% of CSU students experience hunger and 12% experience homelessness. AB 214 builds upon two previous bills, Assembly Bill 1747 (Weber, 2016) and AB 1930 (Skinner, 2014), that addressed food insecurity for low-income students on California’s college campuses. This bill addresses college students facing food insecurity by, among other things:
• Clarifying education policies and definitions to simplify the administration of CalFresh for college students.
• Requiring the California Student Aid Commission to inform students of information that could help them verify their eligibility for CalFresh.
SB 138: Senate Bill 138, authored by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Santa Rosa, fights child hunger by using existing Medi-Cal records to directly certify students for free and reduced-price school meals, reducing the pile of paperwork that parents and schools currently have to wade through to make sure at-risk kids get the meals they need. The bill also encourages high-poverty schools to offer free school meals to all students, meaning kids can count on getting at least a healthy breakfast and lunch during the school week. See this Long Beach Press Telegram op ed about the bill:
2. New Book “Big Hunger” Explores Connections between Corporations and Anti-Hunger Groups: Authors and Guests in Santa Monica Panel, August 1
Santa Monica Farmers Market Events Presents:
Andrew Fisher, author of Big Hunger – The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups
SANTA MONICA, CA Hunger is a medical condition; food insecurity is a political problem. Is there a cure for perpetual food insecurity in America? Farmers markets provide a bounty of local sustainable food that is becoming available to more and more people due to the efforts of visionary non profit entrepreneurs who distribute food to the neediest among us. Meet the leaders who are making food accessible to all, starting right here at the farmers market.
Andrew Fisher, community organizer, educator and author of Big Hunger – the Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups
Rick Nahmias, Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward
Sam Polk, Founder and Executive Director of Groceryships and Everytable
Frank Tamborello, Executive Director of Hunger Action LA
When: Tuesday August 1st 6:30 pm
Where: The Gallery Food Hall 1315 Third Street Promenade (between Arizona Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd) upstairs patio
The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided by Everytable.
For more info, contact Laura Avery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-458-8712 X 6.
Learn more about the Santa Monica Farmers Markets at farmersmarket.smgov.net
Listen for Andy to be interviewed on Rising Up with Sonali on KPFK 90.7 FM either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week
3. Give 65 Campaign Continues! Help LA Seniors Get Market Match
Hunger Action LA’s campaign with Give 65 to help LA seniors access healthy food continues! Please see the site and donate for Senior Market Match:
4. World Hunger and World Food Prices: Update
Are you aware that 20 million people may face starvation related to conflict, in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia? Neither are most Americans: Americans Don't Know About Hunger in Middle East, Africa. With some saying it’s the most dire situation since World War Two, it’s astounding that the Trump administration wants to cut foreigh aid. “Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people [in these countries] will simply starve to death,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien warned in March of this year. But the Trump administration budget blueprint calls for deep cuts to foreigh aid.
To emphasize again, all this hunger is related to war---people trying to survive in conflict zones where they are being deliberately kept from food supplies. Many aren’t aware that the US is helping to fund one of those catastrophes: the ongoing vicious campaign by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against their perceived enemies in Yemen. Fortunately, the US House of Reps has voted this past Friday to approve two amendments recently to the National Defense Authorization Act that would end US participation in the Saudi and United Arab Emirates war on Yemen. Please follow the linked article to the end to learn how to pressure the Senate, and hopefully the Trump administration, to follow suit:
It is a pretty sick irony that the White House not only wants to cut foreign aid, but is spending billions to create hunger.
Were it not for these conflict-driven humanitarian crises, there would actually be some decent news on the hunger front, for as Holly Demaree writes in World Grain’s website , “Global food commodity prices are projected to remain low over the next decade compared to previous peaks, according to the latest 10-year agricultural outlook published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).”
José Graziano da Silva, FAO director-general. “But we also know that more food alone is not enough to eliminate undernourishment and other forms of malnutrition. Access to the additional calories is extremely important. More challenging is the fight against malnutrition: Fighting malnutrition requires a diversified, safe and nutritious diet, ideally produced with a lower environmental footprint.”
5. The Coming Food Fight in Washington DC
Over the next couple of years as we head toward the expiration of the current Farm Bill---the omnibus legislation that covers SNAP as well as payments to America’s farmers---you’ll be hearing a lot of debate about the SNAP program and other food programs. And the Farm Bill isn’t the only place where decisions on SNAP are made---those can come in the Agricultural Appropriations bill (which are every year) and even in the general federal budget.
Already the issues shaping up for a battle include : cutting the budget for SNAP: forcing retailers to pay to be able to accept SNAP: attaching new stricter rules to limit the participation of adults who have no children: restricting purchase of soda: plans to roll back the nutrition guidelines championed by Michelle Obama as part of the last administration’s anti-obesity campaign (the current administration doesn’t feel like healthier school lunches are needed) : and food assistance for people suffering hunger in developing countries.
You can begin your advocacy to protect SNAP as well as housing, health care and other vital programs by signing up with Human Needs Coalition (HNC) SAVE for All Coalition. Groups and individuals can both sign, just click here. To see a copy of the SAVE for All sign-on letter with current national, state and local signers, click here.
Get used to even more nasty comments about low income people who use food assistance. Huffington Post reports on remarks by Iowa congressman Steve King, who believes along with the President that we should cut human needs, including food stamps, to fund the wall on the border with Mexico:
But over the years a vast number of people have seen the benefits of the SNAP program. And it’s not just the anti-hunger movement and social service agencies who oppose proposals to cut SNAP. Brian Barth in Modern Farmer opposes the food stamp cuts in this excellent article, from which I will quote extensively:
SNAP is good business: Brian points out “public welfare is only part of the picture. SNAP plays a role in the broader economy…..in 2016, some 260,000 food retailers made about $66 billion in sales through SNAP spending…. SNAP benefits spent at farmers markets have exploded in recent years, increasing six-fold between 2008 and 2015—partially as a result of a nationwide movement to double the value of SNAP benefits spent at farmer’s markets in hopes of encouraging healthier food choices “ (Ed: that’s Market Match he’s referring to there.)
Will retailers have to PAY to participate in SNAP? Continuing with Brian, “However, Trump’s proposed cuts would be funded in part by making retailers pay a fee to the government to be able to accept SNAP payments, which would presumably include farm and farmers markets (it’s currently free to accept SNAP payments). It’s estimated that the fee would range from $250 to $20,000, depending on the size of the retailer. Large supermarkets are unlikely to be dissuaded from participating in SNAP by the fee, but the smallest retailers might have to jump ship. Given that tiny corner stores are the only option to purchase groceries in many so-called “food deserts,” this could have disastrous consequences for SNAP recipients.”
Trump supporters will suffer from SNAP cuts: Finally, “Another irony: many of the working-class voters who form Trump’s base of support have an income level that puts them one paycheck away from being SNAP beneficiaries. And it’s likely that large numbers of Trump supporters are already SNAP recipients. The program is more widely used in states that tend to vote for Republicans than Democrats, and is particularly prevalent among impoverished white voters in the Rust Belt, who were identified as a key constituency that pushed Trump to the White House. In West Virginia, a state whose coal miners have been some of Trump’s most vocal supporters, 20 percent of the population relies on food stamps.”
6. How Food Programs Fared in the House Ag Budget
On July 12, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee voted out its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. This bill authorizes spending on many food programs for low income people here and abroad, and should be compared with the Trump administration’s recommendations on the same issues to anticipate where there may be conflicts or compromises between Congress and the President. Among the highlights and lowlights:
· SNAP is reduced by $4.87 billion due to declining enrollment and decrease in food costs. In spite of Republican control of Congress, the representatives allocated more money than the Trump administration for example, in $25 million in grants for localities to serve healthier school meals, although it stalls improvements to nutrition in school meals, allowing schools to seek exemption from whole grain, delaying implementation of sodium reduction and permitting schools to serve low fat flavored milk.
· The House did recommend standards to prevent students from “lunch shaming”, including protecting students from public embarrassment if their parents did not pay the lunch fees.
· In light of the starvation being faced at record levels in some other countries it is heartening to see that the House provided $1.4 billion for Food for Peace and $185 million of the International Food for Education and Child nutrition Program. Both of these programs got big zeroes from the Trump administration’s proposed budget.
7. Trump Administration Vs Nutrition Labeling and Health School Meals
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke last week to a crowd of 7,000 professionals at the School Nutrition Association's annual conference in Atlanta. And most of them cheered the news that the Trump administration has relaxed some of the school-nutrition standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. Perdue insists that the new policies are not a step backwards and that they’re just slowing down on the implementation of them. However, as with many actions by this administration you know people by the company they keep. And Perdue has invited the new president of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Lynn Harvey and the board of the SNA to meet with him in DC to tell him how to make the new rules.
Don’t be fooled by the name: while the School Nutrition Association was side by side with Michelle Obama in the early days of her Let’s Move campaign, they’ve made a 180 shift and have aggressively pushed for waivers from nutrition standards passed under Obama---such as requirement for whole grain pasta and on servings of grains and protein. Some former SNA members say that food industry members like pizza companies, who fork out a lot of the money for the SNA’s operating expenses, are doing pay for play, in effect, and getting the NSA to carry water for their lobbying efforts to keep salty and sugary foods piled on the kids’ plates. Some SNA members dispute this and say it’s about making sure food doesn’t end up in the trash.
School nutrition isn’t the only area in which the Trump team is making slow downs or reversals. From Politco’s Morning Ag: “The Trump administration also last week delayed an Obama-era rule requiring restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters to post calorie counts on their menus, a vestige of the Affordable Care Act that has been delayed numerous times over the past seven years due to complaints from convenience stores and pizza chains, among other interests. Trump's FDA pulled the plug on the labeling deadline four days short of its effective date, leaving companies in the lurch after many had already invested time and resources to meet the requirements.”
“A handful of health advocates from the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest met with White House Office of Management and Budget officials last week to discuss the delay.The meeting included Ray Starling, a top White House agriculture adviser, as well as top officials from HHS, FDA and OMB's OIRA. Meeting participants told MA that health advocates made the case that delaying the Nutrition Facts label any longer would be both bad for public health and confusing for the marketplace, since some companies have already started using the updated labels. The meeting handouts are here. “