News Update: March 3rd 2014

To All Those Interested in Food and Justice...

HALA Meeting Friday March 7: The deluge having passed for the time being (we’ll contract with Ken Ham to fund us for constructing an ark next time), please come to the Hunger Action LA Monthly Meeting, now scheduled for Friday March 7, 10 am to 12 noon, at the California Partnership office, 2533 W 3rd St. in LA (Free parking behind the building).

HALA Meeting Friday March 7: The deluge having passed for the time being (we’ll contract with Ken Ham to fund us for constructing an ark next time), please come to the Hunger Action LA Monthly Meeting, now scheduled for Friday March 7, 10 am to 12 noon, at the California Partnership office, 2533 W 3rd St. in LA (Free parking behind the building).

  1. State Anti Hunger Issues : Support Letters Needed
  2. Urge Ag Secretary To Delay SNAP Cuts
  3. The Drought and Food

1. State Anti Hunger Issues : Support Letters Needed

The California Assembly and Senate are conducting their committee hearings for the next several weeks on issues that will impact poverty and hunger in the state, leading up to the annual budget revise in May.
 
HALA and its allies especially in the California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) are calling on organizations to submit letters of support on these bills and budget items. There are two in particular which need a strong showing from the anti-poverty community to advance:
 
California Organizations: Please Submit Support Letter to End Lifetime Ban. For over 15 years California has restricted people with certain past drug related felonies from ever being eligible to receive food stamp (CalFresh) food assistance. Thousands of persons in the state now, struggling to re-enter society after finishing time in prison and complying with parole and probation, can’t get help they need, and no doubt this policy contributes to California’s high recidivism rate.  In spite of calls from a wide range of organizations including law enforcement groups and faith based groups among others, the ban persists. Senator Loni Hancock of Oakland has introduced a bill to restore eligibility to CalFresh and CalWORKs for this population. It’s going to be heard in the Senate’s Budget Subcommittee on Human Services.
At the following link you can find a sample support letter which you can copy and paste into your own letter, and add your organization’s letterhead.
http://hungeractionla.nationbuilder.com/sample_support_letter_successful_re_entry_sb_1029
 
California Organizations: Please Submit Support Letter to Increase SSI in California: One and a half million Californians who are disabled, blind or over 65, depend on Supplemental Security Income, a monthly payment of a maximum $877 for individuals. They’re ineligible for CalFresh due to an outdated formula used by the state, therefore they must pay for all their housing, food, transportation and out of pocket medical expenses from this $877. As this is practically impossible in most parts of California, many SSI participants are homeless, or if they are housed have almost nothing left over for food and medications. The current grant is below the official federal poverty level.
 
The benefit is supposed to increase slightly each year to account for higher costs of living. But for many of the last several years, this increase has not been added to the benefit, and in fact cuts have been made. The pool of money for this program was raided annually, to help balance the overall state budget.
 
This year, there’s a movement especially among those working with seniors and people with disabilities to replace at least some of what’s been lost from the SSI/SSP (State Supplemental Payment) overall benefit. At this link you’ll find a support letter directed to the Assembly budget subcommittee chair,  which you can copy and paste onto your organization’s letterhead. This letter should be submitted ASAP (by March 4) and there will be follow up likely involving another letter for the corresponding committee in the Senate.
 
http://hungeractionla.nationbuilder.com/support_letter_to_increase_ssi_for_seniors_and_disabled


2. Urge Ag Secretary To Delay SNAP Cuts 


(Reprinted from Daily Kos):
 
Food stamp cuts impacting 850,000 families have passed Congress and been signed into law, but there is still a way to delay—or even reduce—these cuts.
 
Here is the story: People who are receiving heating assistance qualify for increased food stamp assistance, so that families don’t have to choose between eating and heating their homes. But Congress moved the goal posts for these families, increasing the minimum amount of heating assistance required in order to qualify for an increase in food stamp benefits—effectively forcing poor families to make the choice between eating and heating.
 
But the states facing cuts can reduce the impact of food stamp cuts for their residents by increasing the amount of home heating assistance they provide to low-income families.
 
The thing that states most need to reduce the food stamp cuts is time—and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack can give them that time by delaying the implementation of the food stamp cuts until the fall.
 
Nearly 100 members of Congress are pushing Secretary Vilsack to delay the food stamp cuts until the fall, and he is expected to announce his decision as soon as next week.
 
Sign this urgent petition to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: Delay implementing food stamps cuts.
https://www.dailykos.com/campaigns/709
 
Our Message to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack :
Cuts to food stamps in the Farm Bill could devastate poor families. You have the power to delay these cuts so that families have a chance to prepare for them—or so that states to pass new aid to help these families cope. Please delay these cuts.
 
Related stories:
Some States Find Ways To Restore Cut Food Stamp Funding
http://keranews.org/post/some-states-find-ways-restore-cut-food-stamp-funding
Military Food Stamp Use Rose in 2013
 
Ari Melber of MSNBC lashes out at former VP Dick Cheney and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for their criticism of the food stamp program, and the Republicans’ failure to support veterans:
http://crooksandliars.com/2014/03/ari-melbers-open-letter-dick-cheney-vets


 

3. The Drought and Food


We got ourselves a good soaking in LA these last few days, but it won’t really make much of a dent in the drought conditions in California. Governor Brown has signed a $687 million drought relief package that includes $25.3 million in food assistance and $21 million in housing assistance to farm workers unemployed as a result of farmers forced to cut back on acreage due to lack of water, another example of workers in the food chain being the first to suffer hunger when food production slows down.
 
According to a recent article, “California grows half the nation's fruits and vegetables and is the top state by value of agricultural goods produced. Large-scale crop losses in the state could lead to higher consumer prices, especially for tree and vine produce grown only here.”
Details on Brown’s signature and what’s in the drought relief package:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/02/jerry-brown-drought_n_4882265.html
 
The drought has farmers cutting back on production, and on top of the drought is the state’s cutback of water flow from the north to the south. California’s long standing highly politicized debate between environmentalists and farmers will become louder in the next several months. Jobs and food supply are being impacted by the drought:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0219/California-drought-Farmers-cut-back-sharply-affecting-jobs-and-food-supply-video
(See also: Why CA's Big Cities Have Water and Its Farms Don't)
 
The drought should hopefully spur more debate on fracking in California. Fracking uses huge amounts of water, and the water can’t be recycled into drinking water or used for agricultural purposes after it’s been used for fracking.
 
As the Farmers Against Fracking petition reports:
 
“The expansion of fracking in California will demand large volumes of water that could come at the expense of agricultural operations. Farmers across California are already coming to grips with dwindling water supplies and could lose additional supplies to contamination from fracking operations. Fracking operations immediately pollute water by mixing it with up to 500 toxic chemicals to induce the fracturing of the rock. It is estimated that each frack job uses between 500,000 and 3,000,000 gallons of water, which becomes polluted and is removed from the hydrological cycle.
 
In addition to supply, the global demand for California’s oil will likely increase the price of water to the detriment of farmers. Many small and mid-sized farmers will not be able to compete for water versus large multinational oil companies that are willing to pay much higher prices. Oil companies have already begun outbidding farmers in California, Colorado and other states for water supply. Without a reliable water supply, many farmers could be pushed out of farming.”
 
Farmers Against Fracking Petition
 
The La City Council took a step towards banning fracking in the city this past Friday. Many people aren’t aware that hydraulic fracturing takes place right here in the city, or of its effects on the environment, health and potentially on the budding community gardening movement.
The drought in our state will raise fruit and vegetable prices here and across the nation. Exacerbating this effect is the drought in other parts of the country which is already affecting meat and grain prices:
 
http://modernfarmer.com/2014/02/california-drought-means-grocery-store-prices/
 
Fruits and vegetables are already high priced for many low income Angelenos. This should prompt more interest in community gardening and innovative pricing structures such as the Market Match program operated locally by Hunger Action LA and SEE-LA with coordination from The Ecology Center.  The Market Match program helps low income people at 14 LA area farmers markets purchase more fresh produce by giving them an extra dollar for each dollar they spend, up to $10 max, on fruits and vegetables at the market. In March, this program will be expanding to the Heritage @ Vermont farmers market and the planned Compton Blue Line market.
 
The Market Match program is designed to help the small to mid sized California fruit and vegetable farmers as well as low income urban dwellers. These farmers are suffering disproportionately from the drought. In addition, new food safety rules will directly impact farmers’ ability to use organic methods (see: Planned Food Safety Rules Rile Organic Farmers ).
 
You can help our farmers as well as hungry people including families, seniors and people with disabilities by patronizing the markets and/or making a donation to HALA’s Market Match program.
 
http://hungeractionla.nationbuilder.com/market_match (how the program works)
http://hungeractionla.nationbuilder.com/mm_markets (list of participating markets)
Donations: Use PayPal button or alternative methods listed at www.hungeractionla.org


 

Frank Tamborello

Hunger Action Los Angeles

961 S. Mariposa #205

Los Angeles CA 90006

213-388-8228 frank@hungeractionla.org


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