Catherine Snuggs 27sc

Catherine Snuggs's activity stream


  • published Join HALA Nation! in Home 2024-05-25 18:38:16 -0700

    Join HALA Nation!

    We have one goal and it is simple.  We want to end hunger through direct service, advocacy, and organizing. 

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  • published HALA Food Justice Education Corner in Advocacy 2024-05-21 15:24:28 -0700

    HALA Food Justice Education Corner

     

    HALA Food Justice Education Corner


    Basic Training: Farm Bill and the Thrifty Food Plan 

     

    The Farm Bill is a package of legislation passed once every five years.  There bill has a direct impact on agriculture, food systems, and consumers.

    It covers programs ranging from crop insurance for farmers to healthy food access for low-income families.

    The Farm Bill has different sections, known as titles, that can change over time. The last Farm Bill had 12 titles.

    Out of those 12 titles, Title Four is the most relevant for anti-hunger advocates.

    The Nutrition title covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as a variety of smaller nutrition programs to help individuals and families with low incomes afford food.

    Farm Bill Fact Sheet
     

    What is the Thrifty Food Plan?

    The USDA determines SNAP benefit allotments based on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which is the lowest cost of the four USDA food plans. Fortunately, due to the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2), the USDA is mandated to review the TFP every 5 years to reassess the cost of food, nutritional content, dietary guidance, and the eating habits of Americans.

    Even after the TFP reevaluation, SNAP benefits still average only $6 per person per day, which is barely enough for a cup of coffee.

    During the pandemic, SNAP benefits were raised, and that helped families to buy more food and therefore be able to also pay the rent and other bills with less stress. Those emergency allotments (also called EAs) ended in March of 2023, and since then hunger has intensified. It’s important to strengthen critical food benefits for households facing hunger.

    The current maximum SNAP benefit levels still fall short of the cost of low-income meals in 98% of California counties.

    Most Americans agree that we should increase SNAP allotments to reflect current nutrition guidance and changing food costs.

    The Closing the Meal Gap Act H.R. 3037 (Adams) / S. 1336 (Gillibrand) aims to improve SNAP benefit adequacy by permanently adopting the Low-Cost Food Plan, raising the minimum allotment (currently a meager $23 a month), and removing the shelter cap that harms rent-burdened Californians.

     

  • published Farm Bill in Advocacy 2024-05-21 15:12:49 -0700

    Farm Bill

    Urge Congress to Strengthen SNAP Benefit Adequacy in the Farm Bill

    Here are some actions you can take provided by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger advocacy group that monitors the Farm Bill and other nationwide hunger legislation.

     

    Resources and Helpful Fact Sheets

    More Details on the Farm Bill

    Farm Bill: Congress Must Protect and Strengthen SNAP, TEFAP, and Other Anti-Hunger Programs

     

    Call the Capital Switch Board at 202-224-3121 and urge your Representative or Senator to reject the House Ag Committee markup of the farm bill and to support the following items:

    H.R. 3037/S. 1336 — Closing the Meal Gap Act

    Base SNAP benefit allotments on the more adequate
    Low-Cost Food Plan. Boost SNAP benefits for families with children forced to choose between food and shelter. Boost SNAP benefits for older Americans forced to choose between food and medicine. Boost the SNAP minimum monthly benefit, which currently is only $23.Improve equitable access by extending SNAP to Puerto Rico

    H.R. 1510/S. 2435 — Improving Access to Nutrition Act
     End SNAP’s arbitrary three-month time limit to ensure that all
    eligible people have access to nutrition assistance and stay
    healthy.

    H.R. 3183/S. 1488 — Enhance Access to SNAP Act
    (EATS Act)Eliminate the barriers that college students face when
    accessing SNAP.

    H.R. 3519/S. 2258 — The Hot Foods Act
    End the prohibition on the use of SNAP benefits to
    purchase hot prepared foods from food retailers.


    H.R. 4170/S. 2038 — The Lift the Bar Act
    Eliminate the five-year bar (i.e., waiting period) for legal
    permanent immigrants to access SNAP and other
    federal programs.


    H.R. 3479/S. 1753 — The Restore Act
    Repeal the lifetime federal ban on individuals with felony
    drug convictions from receiving SNAP.


    Ensuring Equitable Food Access

    Indian Country: Improve SNAP access for tribal populations, including by allowing participation in both SNAP and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) 


    Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories: Extend the pathway for SNAP to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands

     
     

    Key Decision Makers Regarding the Farm Bill

    The Honorable Alex Padilla
    U.S. Senate
    Washington, D.C. 20510


    The Honorable Ken Calvert
    Dean, California Republican
    Congressional Delegation
    Washington, DC 20515


    The Honorable Laphonza Butler
    U.S. Senate
    Washington, D.C. 20510


    The Honorable Zoe Lofgren
    Chair, California Democratic
    Congressional Delegation
    Washington, DC 20515

    CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD: 202-224-3121

    Call the Capitol Switchboard to:

    • Connect with your local lawmaker and share your thoughts on the Farm Bill and TFP (Thrifty Food Plan) 
    • Urge your own Representative or Senator to reject the House Ag Committee markup of the farm bill.

     

    Hunger Action Los Angeles · 961 S Mariposa Ave, # 205, Los Angeles, CA 90006, United States


  • pledged support 2024-02-19 15:28:08 -0800

  • published Get Involved in Home 2024-02-20 22:22:55 -0800

    Hello HALA Nation!

    There are many ways to support food justice and your community.

     

    Current opportunities Table of Contents:

    1. Contact Your Key Decision Makers!
    2. Donate to HALA
    3. Farm Bill Updates

     


    1. Contact Your Key Decision Makers 

    In response to the significant state budget shortfall, funding for a crucial program in the fight against food insecurity has been reduced – the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP)!

    CNIP supports vital programs such as Market Match, which offers incentives to assist low-income families in California to buy healthy and nutritious foods. It plays a significant role in combating food insecurity and provides substantial economic benefits to California’s most vulnerable populations. It is essential to continue prioritizing programs like CNIP that support our frontline communities!

    Please consider emailing Governor Newsom and your state legislators to urge them to preserve CNIP during these challenging budget times.

    Click Here To Send a Quick Email to Governor Newsome and your state legislators.


    2. Donate to Hunger Action Los Angeles!


    3.  Updates on the Farm Bill

    Farm Bill:  What you Need to know

     

    We wanted to provide a quick update on yesterday’s House Agriculture Committee hearing on the Farm Bill. As expected, the bill passed out of the committee - but disappointingly,  four Democrats voted in favor of the bill due to the reelection challenges they are facing. The final vote was 33-21.
    You can watch the hearing here and here are the opening statements:
    Our California Agriculture Committee Members of Congress, Costa and Carbajal, spoke strongly in support of SNAP and what the $30B in Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) cuts would mean. We made sure to lift up their remarks on social media and hope you can amplify them: 
    Many Democrats from other states also passionately advocated for SNAP and voiced their strong opposition to the cuts to the TFP. Notably, Rep. McGovern fact-checked members who were saying the TFP was not a cut but merely rhetoric. Also, Rep. Crockett reminded members that rural America uses more SNAP benefits than urban America 
    Rep. Hayes introduced an amendment to strike a provision in the farm bill to prevent the review freeze/cuts of benefits under TFP. Rep. Costa noted that 67,000 households in his district rely on SNAP, that he would support the Hayes amendment, and that the committee will have to figure out how to address this issue if a farm bill is going to pass. The amendment was defeated along party lines.
    Many thanks to everyone who reached out to their members asking them to weigh in or to vote no on the bill! If your member of Congress is Costa or Carbajal, please take a moment to reach out and thank them for voting no.
    Moving forward, Congress will focus on Appropriations bills. On the Senate side, Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) is expected to release his farm bill framework in the coming weeks as well. As you know, Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) released a summary of a farm bill proposal earlier this month. We’ll keep monitoring and share any opportunities for advocacy as needed.
    Below the signature line are some talking points to refer to in case you have any further questions.
    Talking points on the markup:
    • We know what these bad proposals mean for California and we want a bill that will deliver for our state. 
    • Approximately 3.6 billion, or 12% of the $30B cuts to SNAP food would be taken from the 5 million Californians who spend SNAP benefits at 23,874 authorized EBT retailers across California.
    • Even after the recent TFP reevaluation, SNAP benefits still only average $6 per person per day — barely more than a cup of coffee, and still fall short of the cost of low-income meals in 98% of California counties.  
    • Proven policy solution would be to strengthen SNAP by protecting against cuts and benefit adequacy through the Closing the Meal Gap Act H.R. 3037 (Adams) / S. 1336 (Gillibrand), without cuts or offsets to SNAP or other Farm Bill programs. 
    • The TFP doesn’t just impact SNAP benefits - it also impacts the TEFAP entitlement food formula, as well as Summer EBT benefits.
    • Additionally, the bill would:
      • Transform SNAP from a food assistance program into a nutrition control program, potentially leading to intrusive "food police" measures.
      • Privatize the program, which would undermine our public service workforce.
      • Negatively affects students entering college who rely on work-study jobs.

     


  • published More Ways to Give in Donations 2023-09-25 22:21:28 -0700

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  • published Calendar 2023-09-25 13:26:42 -0700

  • 2023: Victories in Advocacy and Challenges Ahead

    Hunger Action LA rallied advocates and low income people to support change in our state’s food assistance systems in 2023. Most of the legislative changes impacted the CalFresh program, which remains the #1 line of defense against hunger for four million in California.  Our work together isn’t finished and we have a challenging year ahead, with inflation and state budget shortfalls potentially impacting the ability of food assistance programs to adequately meet the needs of low income workers, families, seniors, and people with disabiities. Here is a recap of some of the highlights of 2023:

     

    Minimum Benefit for CalFresh: After the pandemic benefits ended in the spring of this year, tens of thousands of recipients of CalFresh food benefits found themselves reduced from as high as $281 in benefits per month to the almost useless sum of $23 per month. Advocates from around California hopped into action, with Hunger Action LA co-sponsoring SB 600, which proposed an increase in the CalFresh minimum benefit to $50, using state funding to fill the gap in federal funding. The bill found an ardent champion in author Senator Caroline Menjivar from the San Fernando Valley. Representing LA, Frank Tamborello and SSI recipient Trinidad Luna flew to Sacramento to testify at the Senate Human Services Committee hearing, where even Republican Senator Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh signed on as co-author of the bill making it a rare bipartisan endeavor. In the quirky ways of state politics, the bill itself was put on ice for the next legislative session, but $15 million was allocated to begin the process of increasing the minimum benefit. While this sum is not high enough to raise every recipient to a $50 minimum, it is a start in improving the situation. It should be noted that other states have increased their minimum benefit, including New Jersey. 

     

    Reimbursement of Skimmed EBT CalFresh Benefits: Advocates succeeded in winning $42.9 million for administering and automating California’s plan to restore stolen benefits. Hunger Action LA was a plaintiff in a case several years ago (Court of Appeal decision in Esther Ortega et al., v. Kimberley Johnson, et al.) that the state was obligated to restore stolen benefits.

     

     

    Food 4 All: HALA was proud to be part of the vast coalition working for Food 4 All to allow undocumented persons access to CalFresh. HALA arranged for client testimony at press conferences and in social media. The state budget allotted $40 million for an accelerated implementation of California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) benefits to begin issuance in October 2025 instead of January 2027. The first eligible group will be persons 55 and older, meaning the campaign must continue to bring in all age groups.

     

    Access to Hot Food for CalFresh recipients: The inconsistent rules of federal programs often leave a void in access to survival resources for those seeking to stay afloat in the tough economy. A case in point is the SNAP program (CalFresh here): while we have a program that allows food benefits on the card to be used at restaurants by persons who are senior, disabled, or unhoused, you still can’t use CalFresh to buy prepared foods that are in grocery stores---such as the ubiquitous roasted chicken dinners, ideal for someone who has no cooking facilities but still ineligible for purchase by CalFresh. Hunger Action LA co-sponsored AB 712, authored by LA Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo,  which would allow purchase of hot or prepared food from grocery stores with CalFresh for all recipients. The bill was signed into law by the Governor. However, it still hinges on acquiring a waiver from the federal government to be implemented.

     

    SSI/SSP: Hunger Action LA continued it’s leadership role among SSI recipients and as part of the CA4SSI Coalition, winning a grant increase of 8.6%, effective January 2024 for California’s 1.5 million senior, disabled and blind persons depending on Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) 

     

    In addition to the above, HALA as part of the state-wide coalition California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) won:

     

    • Support for emergency food in California food banks
    • Funding to increase nutritional quality of school meals
    • $35 million in California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) funding which supports the Market Match program

     

     

     

     

    Challenges Ahead:

     

    Federal changes impact CalFresh recipients over age 50: As part of a budget deal earlier this year to avoid federal government default, President Biden agreed to Republican demands to increase the age to 55 at which recipients of SNAP (CalFresh here) are required to be working 20 hours per week as a condition of receiving benefits. After three months of non-compliance, the person then becomes ineligible for nearly three years. The rule applies to people with no disabilities and no dependents (hence the awful sounding and de-humanizing acronym ABAWD or Able Bodied Adult Without Dependents.) 

     

    This rule existed since the 1996 “Contract With America” welfare reform package constructed by Newt Gingrich (and the rule in particular by Ohio past representative and governor John Kasich.) It originally applied to recipients aged 18 to 50, and the 20 hours work could be accomplished also through “approved work and training programs”. Over the years waivers were applied and used by the states, and everyone was exempted from the rule during the pandemic. 

    The rule is being rolled out in phases, with persons age 52 impacted beginning Oct 2023, then those age 53 or 54 beginning Oct 2024. There are some new exemptions for veterans and for unhoused persons, but less than half those impacted are in those two groups. 

    Hunger Action LA will seek to eliminate this rule (which may be around till at least 2030) and in the meantime explore ways to mitigate the damage, which will hurt people at the age at which finding a job becomes even more difficult.

     

    https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/debt-ceiling-agreements-snap-changes-would-increase-hunger-and-poverty-for 

     

    Farm Bill:

     

    Every five years (with delays having become a common occurrence), Congress passes an omnibus piece of legislation called the Farm Bill, about half of which deals with agricultural subsidies, crop insurance and similar items dealing with our country’s agriculture, and about half of which is the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps and now CalFresh here in California) . This is an opportunity for proponents of food assistance to push for beneficial things to the program, while opponents seek to make cuts. 

     

    Why are the two items linked? Partially, it’s because in theory SNAP users are purchasing American agricultural products, therefore the SNAP program is a piece of the funding for American farmers. It’s also what’s politically termed a “log roll” or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”; rural representatives who wanted farm payments for their constituents agreed to support urban representatives’ need for food assistance for their constituents, and vice versa. This is less the case now, as even many conservative representatives often oppose ag subsidies (unless it’s their state’s primary money-making crop that’s involved.) 

     

    By the way, in California we have the opportunity to support CalFresh users purchasing California grown products---that’s a major part of what Market Match is about.

     

    What are some major Farm Bill issues: In spite of the high political tensions dominating public conversation in the USA right now, there are some surprisingly bipartisan initiatives in the Farm Bill this year:

    GusNIP: This program is named for Gus Schumacher, the pioneer of Market Match-type programs all over the country, and has become a major primary funding source for the program. These are programs that provide bonus dollars when participants use SNAP benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables.  Currently organizations with Market Match type programs (known by a multitude of different names depending on your state) are required to “match” the funding they receive by 50%. Some states act as the matching funder for the program.  In California, the state matches (and beyond) the federal funding from GusNIP with its own CNIP (California Nutrition Incentive Program). This is due to advocacy over the past decade led by the Ecology Center and with participation from Hunger Action LA and dozens of other California groups. 

    Bipartisan proposals in the Farm Bill would reduce the matching requirements to only 20%, allowing many more agencies and states around the country to begin providing bonus dollars to SNAP users at farmers markets and in fact at other locations including supermarkets and grocery stores.



    SNAP Nutrition Security Act: New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio have introduced a bill that would require the US Department of Agriculture to turn over data on how the billions of SNAP dollars are being spent. While this bill has notable endorsers such as the American Heart Association, Hunger Free America and the Center for Black Health and Equity, there is concern that the “end game” is to next restrict what can be purchased with SNAP with an aid to eliminating “junk food” purchases. While it's laudable to want everyone to eat healthy, the problem in many low income areas in the country that healthy food is not available. How would junk food be defined and how would retail grocers react to having to separate different foods at the cash register? There’s also the issue of the constant stigmatization of food assistance recipients as being uneducated or unconcerned with health. Hunger Action LA prefers positive methods of making healthy food more affordable---such as Market Match---or, processes that disincentivize all of us from purchasing unhealthy products, not just low income people. A soda tax for example is something everyone would have to pay, not singling out poor people for punishment. It should be noted that Booker and Rubio’s SNAP Nutrition Security Act does not in itself call for restriction on what can be bought, but it’s clear that it’s ultimate goal is a path to such restrictions. 

     

    State Level: Special Circumstances Program

     

    A stove and a refrigerator contribute enormously to one’s ability to economize and make the most of one’s food purchasing resources, whether that’s cash or CalFresh. Many of our most vulnerable residents in California, including the 1.5 million blind, senior and/or disabled recipients of SSI, find themselves in a real bind if their stove or refrigerator breaks down. From the 1970s until 2002, there was a program called Special Circumstances in which SSI recipients (and also, recipients of In-Home Supportive Services), funded by the state, which would pay for repair or replacement of these essential appliances. Funding ceased over twenty years ago.

    Hunger Action LA and its allies in the CA4SSI Coalition will be advocating to reinstate this program in 2024. In addition to stoves and refrigerators, we seek to add air conditioning to the list and in fact prioritize it as global heating is resulting in more deaths in our elderly and disabled population.