News Update July 9th 2018

July 9, 2018: HALA is once again participating in Give 65, a nationwide crowdfunding campaign for programs benefitting seniors. Funds for HALA will go directly to the Senior Market Match program. Please visit www.give65.org/freshfood and make a contribution now through Thursday, July 12! More than ever we need this program to tide over the needs of seniors getting SSI as it will be one more year before they can apply for CalFresh.

*With the wide range of issues impacting not just low-income folks, but the overall health and well being of society, we ‘d like to emphasize we can’t solve these issues by narrowly focusing on hunger. Hunger is a symptom of many other factors, from workers rights (shredded to an unprecedented degree by Supreme Court rulings over the past month), water, banking and housing---especially in LA. All of those last three issues will have ballot measures this November, making this a very consequential election at the national, state and local level.

 

  1. 1. Farm Bill Update: Senate Passes Its Version of Farm Bill: Next Step is Conference Committee
  2. 2. Volunteers Needed! Blind & Low Vision Day Out at Crenshaw Farmers Market, Saturday July 14
  3. 3. California Caves In to Soda Industry: Cities Can’t Pass Soda Taxes for 12 Years
  4. 4. The Right To Restore Rent Control Will Be On November Ballot
  5. 5. County Will Vote on Safe Clean Water Measure…
  6. 6. And LA City Council Will Propose a Public Bank
  7. 7. Changes in Immigration Policy Will Intensify Deportations of People Lawfully Here
  8. 8. Senator Harris Introduces Fairness for Farm Workers Act
  9. 9. Seeds from Syria Can Help Salvage US Grain Producers

1. Farm Bill Update: Senate Passes Its Version of Farm Bill: Next Step is Conference Committee

The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 28, by a wide margin of 86 to 11. Their version of this every-five-years, broad legislative package that includes farm payments and nutrition assistance contains no massive cuts to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or “food stamps”), unlike the House of Representatives version that features new work requirements designed to boot people off the rolls. SNAP already has work requirements for able bodied adults with no dependents, up to age 50, but the new work requirements would have included people with kids and people up to age 60.

The next phase of the Farm Bill will be a Conference Committee, to either reconcile the House and Senate versions (or, another possibility is that one of those bills will be rejected). Farmers are anxiously awaiting passage by the fall, as the farm payment and crop insurance sections help them determine what to plant.

But there’s such a wide gap between the House and Senate versions, regarding SNAP, that it’s difficult to predict what will actually happen next.

It’s important to note that the Senate version passed easily, and had the support of all Democrats plus all but 11 Republicans. The House version barely squeaked by with two votes: and this was on the second attempt to pass it ---the first attempt, in May, failed.

Also, the Senate version, while not placing any new work requirements on SNAP participants, does have provisions that tighten the already effective anti-fraud mechanisms in the program.

Stay tuned for alerts as the bill moves into Conference Committee. You can call your Representatives now and urge them to “Reject the House Farm Bill and Protect SNAP”. Call 202 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your congressional representative.  If you know who your representative is, you can ask to be connected directly. If you are not sure, you will be asked to provide your zip code and in many cases be given a choice of a couple of representatives, since zip codes overlap. Numerous websites can help you find out who your rep is: try https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative


2. Volunteers Needed! Blind & Low Vision Day Out at Crenshaw Farmers Market, Saturday July 14

HALA is looking for volunteers for the 6th Blind/Low Vision Shoppers day at Farmers Markets. The first five have been wildly successful. The site this time is the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Farmers Market

Meet-up 9:30 am @ Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Farmers Market, 3650 Martin Luther King Blvd. LA CA 90008 (shortly before the market opens). The event will go on until 1 pm.

Meet at the Promenade of the Rave Cinemas at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

We need both outgoing folks who would patiently lead blind and low vision shoppers past the various vendors at the farmers market and keep up engaging conversation: and we need volunteer drivers to take the shoppers home to various locations at the end of the day. More information available as we recruit both shoppers and volunteers!

To register or get more information: info@hungeractionla.org Please provide your name, phone number, and physical address. Indicate if you would like to guide, drive shoppers or both. You will be asked to sign a waiver. Please indicate if you have time constraints or can arrive early or stay late.  If you’re driving, we’ll match you up with your take home rides before the day of the market. Shoppers will arrive on their own. That’s it! Hope you can make it!

Our itinerary for this Saturday is outlined below:

  • 10 AM Arrival at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Farmers Market
  • 10:15 AM Breakfast/Orientation
  • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Shopping/Eating
  • 12:30 PM Take shoppers home (Unless some make particular arrangements to stay later with the volunteer)

We will have fresh, good, not expired snacks and water for volunteers as well as shoppers.

Shoppers will also receive $10 market money

Along with helping guide shoppers around the farmers markets, we are also in need of drivers to take shoppers home afterwards.


3. California Caves In to Soda Industry: Cities Can’t Pass Soda Taxes for 12 Years

Sacramento Bee: “California cities and counties will be banned from creating taxes on soda and other sugary drinks for more than a decade under a measure signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 1838, which prohibits new local taxes on "groceries" through 2030, was the linchpin of a complex political deal between the beverage industry and organized labor that emerged over the past week. Proponents of a separate initiative, primarily funded by soda companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, that would make it harder to raise state and local taxes agreed to remove their measure from the ballot in exchange for the moratorium.”

Soda Industry Twists Compromise from Legislators

Meanwhile, evidence from another country, Chile, where sugar taxes have reduced sales of soda dramatically. The tax was introduced in 2014, with data showing 3 of 4 Chileans to be obese. The fall in purchases has come however mostly from the rich, followed by the middle class and then the poorest.

New Study Shows Chile's Soda Tax Has Reduced Sales


4. The Right To Restore Rent Control Will Be On November Ballot

High rents are the major cause of hunger in LA . The housing and hunger issues are inextricably linked. New affordable housing as a solution is creeping along slowly as homelessness explodes, and rents are making LA and other California cities inaccessible to growing numbers of workers.

The measure to allow for the expansion of rent control is Proposition 10 on the November 6, 2018 ballot. This initiative would repeal the state law that currently prevents cities and other communities from creating rent control ordinances and could be the first step to bringing relief for renters in California.

From the Prop 10 Campaign:

We’re one step closer to realizing our dream for California: an affordable California where all families can thrive whether you’re black, brown or white, whether you live on the coast or the central valley, and no matter what kind of home you live in.  

But more and more a handful of corporate landlords and real estate billionaires are rigging the system for their own profits while pointing the finger at everyone else.  Why?  To keep us all divided: dividing us by mom and pop landlords versus tenants, pro-development groups versus tenant's rights activists, tech workers versus long-time residents.

That's why we're all coming together - no matter who you are or where you’re from, we’re inviting you to join the movement today to RIse Up for Rent Control and win Yes on Prop 10!

We have 4 months left to make this happen -

Sign up now to join Rise Up for Rent Control and get materials to begin organizing your own neighborhood for the movement!

The entire nation is watching us. Cities across the country are facing the same devastating gentrification and displacement.  California is in a position to lead the way!

***************************************************

July 17: Possible temporary relief from rent increases for certain parts of the county:

Meanwhile, there are plans for the County to develop an ordinance to temporarily limit rent increases (in the unincorporated areas of the County, which are the only areas where they have jurisdiction for many categories of issues) . On July 17, this item is scheduled to be heard at the County Board meeting:

Develop an Interim Ordinance to Temporarily Limit Rent Increases in unincorporated County areas (1-D is for the Community Development Commission, and 3 for the Board as itself).  Sups. Kuehl/Solis:  Instruct the Community Development Commission and others to present an interim ordinance in 60 days placing a temporary limit on rent level increases (using July 3, 2018 rent levels), and making recommendations for ordinance administration. 
For details, the Motion: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/123949.pdf


5. County Will Vote on Safe Clean Water Measure…

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will consider and vote on the Safe Clean Water Program and funding measure at a public hearing on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Approval by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors will place this measure on the ballot for consideration by voters on November 6, 2018. Final documents for consideration by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors will be published online no later than July 11.

Safe Clean Water Initiative

The measure could raise $300 million for nature-based projects.

Think water isn’t a hunger issue? Equal access to safe clean drinking water is of dire importance and you only need think of Flint, Michigan to see its impact on low income people already burdened by lower access to nutrition and health care.


6. And LA City Council Will Propose a Public Bank

A publicly owned bank is one strategy for keeping more money in the local economy, thus helping improve living standards.

From Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute: “California legislators exploring the public bank option may be breaking not just from Wall Street but from the Federal Reserve.

Voters in Los Angeles will be the first in the country to weigh in on a public banking mandate, after the City Council agreed on June 29th to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow the city to form its own bank. The charter for the nation’s second-largest city currently prohibits the creation of industrial or commercial enterprises by the city without voter approval. The measure, introduced by City Council President Herb Wesson, would allow the city to create a public bank, although state and federal law hurdles would still need to be cleared.

The bank is expected to save the city millions, if not billions, of dollars in Wall Street fees and interest paid to bondholders, while injecting new money into the local economy, generating jobs and expanding the tax base. It could respond to the needs of its residents by reinvesting in low-income housing, critical infrastructure projects, and clean energy, as well as serving as a depository for the cannabis industry (Italics mine---FT)

LA City Council Proposes Initiative for Public Bank

 


7. Changes in Immigration Policy Will Intensify Deportations of People Lawfully Here

From an article by Hassan Ahmad: “a quiet policy change at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services last month is the next step toward a nationwide purge of non-citizens.

On June 28, USCIS announced that non-citizens who apply for a “benefit”–such as an extension or change of status, a green card, or citizenship—would be placed in deportation proceedings if that benefit is denied. For years, a criminal conviction has been required to be fast-tracked for deportation. Now, merely losing your petition for visa extension, being charged with a crime, or doing something DHS considers to be criminal (even if never arrested or charged) places you on the same fast-track.”

The article details how simply missing a deadline, getting a change of job, or failing to respond in a timely way to a letter can lead to deportation:

Immigration Policy Change Threatens Deportation if an Immigrant's Change of Status is Denied

The specter of changes to “Public Charge” policy has been raised repeatedly the last two years. “Public Charge” is the concept that immigrants who use health care or cash assistance are draining the resources our country needs to maintain military bases in 200 countries and spend trillions on defense. (While deporting immigrants who have served and put their life on the line in the US military: see

Immigrant Recruits to Military Being Ousted).

 

Your organization can sign on to the letter from Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), co-chairs of THE PROTECTING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES, ADVANCING OUR FUTURE CAMPAIGN (PIF), opposing public charge.  If your organization has not done so already, please add your name to this list of nearly 250 organizations and share this link widely with your networks.


8. Senator Harris Introduces Fairness for Farm Workers Act

Senator Kamala Harris has introduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act , a positive push at a time when workers and immigrants are both under attack from our administration and our “justice” system.

This Act:

  • Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to grant overtime protections to all farm workers who work more than 40 hours a week, ensuring these workers receive time-and-a-half overtime pay.
    • Phases in this requirement over four years, with additional compliance time for small farms.
  • Eliminates most remaining exemptions to the minimum wage requirements for certain small farms, hand harvest laborers, non-local minors, and range livestock production.
  • Removes overtime exemptions for employees employed in irrigation projects, livestock auctions incidental to farm work, small country grain elevators, certain sugar processing, certain types of intra-state transportation and preparation for transportation of fruits and vegetables, cotton ginning, and cotton compressing. 

This bill is a first push back against the multi-pronged assault on labor and on the immigrants who work in our country, doing the backbreaking labor that brings our food to us at low cost. While Trump supporters tout MAGA, we should consider IMAGINE---Immigrants Make America Greater IN Everything.


9. Seeds from Syria Can Help Salvage US Grain Producers

The following story illustrates another irony: while the US won’t accept refugees from the Syrian civil war that’s another consequence of its attempts to reshape the Middle East to its liking at the cost of millions of lives, it may be resilient seeds of ancient wheat strains there that help us to mitigate the impact of climate change on our industrial ag system.

From a story in The Guardian:

“The US has been losing diversity at an alarming rate during more than three decades of consolidation in the seed industry, and the steadily expanding size of farms. Diversity in seed varieties has dropped in almost every region of the country, most dramatically in the lower Midwest. Globally, the UN has declared that three-quarters of all the world’s crop varieties that were around in the early 1900s had become extinct by 2015.”

Seeds of Syrian varieties of wheat, once stored in a seed bank outside Aleppo and rescued from the civil war there, are able to withstand the heat that’s rising across America’s breadbasket and threatening our ability to grow grain at a reduction of 4% per year.

But even relying on this as a savior has a catch: these wild seeds might save industrial agriculture, but as long as industrial agriculture continues to turn diverse areas into mono-crop plantations, even that solution won’t last long.

Syrian Seeds Could Save US Wheat from Punishing Heat



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