Food & Justice News Mar 2, 2020
- Federal Attack on The Safety Net:
- SSI Critical Benefit For Women and People of Color: California Budget Center Study
- Volunteer for Blind Low Vision Shoppers Day March 15
- Public Comment on School Meal Changes
- Volunteer for Hunger Action Day May 6
- Climate Change Could Threaten California Leadership in Fruits and Vegetables
Federal Attack on The Safety Net:
Public Charge Rule Now in Effect: The Trump administration’s new Public Charge rules went into effect last Monday, February 24. Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles has published excellent materials to clarify some of the confusion around the new rules. Some highlights to share with immigrant families:
- The government announced that the new Public Charge test will start on February 24, 2020. The new public charge test will only be applied to immigration paperwork filed on or after February 24, 2020.
- Most immigrants who are subject to the Public Charge test are not eligible for the public benefits listed in the rule.
- The Public Charge test does not apply to all immigrants. Green card holders, people applying to become U.S. citizens, and certain immigrant categories are not subject to the new or old test.
- The Public Charge test does not apply to all public benefits. For example, My Health LA, WIC, public school, school breakfast and lunch, and foster care benefits are not part of the public charge test and are safe to use.
- The new Public Charge test does not look at any of the public benefits your child or other family members use, only the benefits you use.
- Talk to an attorney who understands immigration law and public benefits law before stopping your benefits.
- The new Public Charge test might not last forever. Advocates are still trying to stop the rule in the courts.
For helpful information, visit www.nlsla.org/projects/public-charge-advocacy
Cuts to SNAP Defeat Program’s Purpose: Tracy Roof, a political science professor at the University of Richmond, has published an article in Salon (“Scaling back SNAP for self-reliance clashes with the original goals of food stamps”) summarizing changes in SNAP/Food Stamps from its beginning in the 1960s through welfare reform in the 1990s and the expansion of the program under the Bush and (temporarily) Obama administrations. The changes proposed under Trump (three in the last year alone) and his proposed drastic reduction in funding for the program in his next budget belie the fact that SNAP actually helps working families to survive:
Administration Figures Slam Public Benefits: Not only Trump, but administration officials such as Bill Barr (currently holding title of Attorney General) pander to religious conservatives who’ve long been opposed to public benefits. He claims that progressives support programs like SNAP in order to create a loyal political constituency (a claim difficult to prove since conservative states have as many participants in SNAP as “liberal” states.) “The tacit goal of this project is to convert all of us into 25-year-olds living in the government’s basement, focusing our energies on obtaining a larger allowance rather than getting a job, and moving out and taking responsibility for ourselves,” Barr said to enthusiastic applause.
White House Wants To Lower Poverty Level: Not content to merely scare immigrants off of public benefits and make rules changes that cut people off of benefits, the Trump White House wants to change the way that poverty is officially measured, which could result in over a million people becoming ineligible for food, health care and other programs that use the poverty rate as a guideline, over the next ten years
Man Starves To Death in UK After Welfare Cuts: The attack on the poor, and on programs to help them, is sadly not limited in the Western world to just the United States. In the UK recently, a 57 year old grandfather was found who had starved to death at his home. He was disabled and had a long history of mental illness. He was found dead “just months after welfare officials stopped his out-of-work and housing benefits.” They only found him because they were coming by to collect back rent.
SSI Critical Benefit For Women and People of Color: California Budget Center Study
Hunger Action LA is part of a large statewide alliance that’s been pushing for a raise in the state-funded portion of the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP) cash benefit for seniors and people with disabilities, over the last several years. 1.3 million in California rely on this benefit which provides about $944 per month—not enough to even cover rent in many parts of the state.
The California Budget and Policy Center has released a study demonstrating that SSI/SSP will become even more critical in the years to come and that due to the long term effects of joblessness or low-wage jobs among women and communities of color, these groups have had a much more difficult time accessing retirement plans and other sources of income. Women comprise 54% of SSI/SSP recipients in California. The state has been reluctant to reverse cuts made in its portion of the grant made mostly during the previous two governors, but unless they do so soon, we can only expect an increase in homelessness, hunger and other indignities not befitting our elders who deserve our respect.
Volunteer for Blind Low Vision Shoppers Day March 15
Help Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Enjoy the Farmers Market:
Sunday March 15 Atwater Village Farmers Market
3528 Larga Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039 in Public Parking Lot 646
What we’ll be doing:
- Guiding blind or low vision shoppers around the market. Need outgoing people who love to converse! Also people who are patient and can describe to the shoppers the foods they’re encountering
- We anticipate staying from 9:30 am until probably 1 pm, at either market: You may have shoppers who wish to go for longer than that. Let me know how long you’d be available
- WE also need drivers. You can be both a guide and a driver if you like. The drivers are there to take the shoppers home from the market. They do not need to bring them TO the market. If you volunteer to drive we will be finding out the addresses of all the shoppers in advance and then alert all the volunteers to those potential addresses, BEFORE the day of the market (though it is often by email at night.)
Here are some reminders to ensure that you are prepared for the day:
- Bring a signed copy of the liability waiver (You can also sign one at the market) Get the waiver at this link:
- Volunteer guides will need to provide their own transportation
Our itinerary for BLV Market Days is outlined below:
- 9:30 AM Arrival at the farmers market (Market doesn’t actually open until 10 but it takes us time to collect people.
- 10:15 AM Breakfast/Orientation---this is where volunteers will match up with shoppers
- 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Shopping/Eating
- 12:30 PM-1 PM Take shoppers home (Unless some make particular arrangements to stay later with the volunteer)
And stay tuned for the next 2 BLV Shopping Days after this one:
*Saturday April 11: Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Farmers Market
*Sunday May 17: Hollywood Farmers Market
If you have any questions or need directions on the day of the event, please call Frank Tamborello, the Director of Hunger Action LA at (213) 361-2075.
Public Comment on School Meal Changes
From the Guardian: “The Trump administration took further steps on Friday towards rolling back healthier standards for school lunches in America championed by Michelle Obama, proposing rules to allow more pizza, meat and potatoes over fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The new proposals would allow schools more flexibility, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement, adding: “Because they know their children best.”
One of the reasons for this is the potato lobby. Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, “says the potato lobby has been pushing for this change, and that the potato industry was behind a change that happened quietly last March. The USDA allowed school food authorities participating in the School Breakfast Program to substitute potatoes in place of fruit without including vegetables from other subgroups in the weekly menus.”
This rollback of healthy food standards comes at a time when record numbers of adolescents are living with prediabetes and toddlers are dealing with obesity. The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed school meal changes,. See the link below:
Volunteer for Hunger Action Day May 6
Each May hundreds of anti-hunger advocates from across the state meet in Sacramento to educate their legislators about hunger and encourage their support for anti-hunger legislation. This year advocates from your community will be at the capitol on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. With more than 3.8 million California adults struggling with food insecurity it’s important we speak out
LOS ANGELES HUNGER ACTION DAY INFORMATION:
- Space is limited so reserve now 213 388 8228 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Leaving on bus 9 am from LA on Tuesday, May 5 (RSVP first) Departing from St Mary's Church 961 S Mariposa LA CA 90006 or nearby
- You will be able to park your car safely overnight, location TBD
- Staying overnight in Sacramento; main events are at the Capitol on Wed May 6.
- Leaving Sacramento 2:30 pm Wednesday, May 6 after Hunger Action Day
- Arrive back in LA approx 9 pm Wed May 6
- $45 donation requested, no one turned away
- Groups welcome from community organizations in LA, East LA, South LA, Valley, Westside, Pasadena/Glendale, San Gabriel Valley, Long Beach, Antelope Valley, and anywhere else!
Highlights of this year’s legislative agenda:
+ Support Governor’s placeholder of $20 million for California food banks to better respond to federal attacks on the safety net and to immigrant families. With more cuts looming, more may be necessary.
+ Improve CalFresh for older adults and people with disabilities: enable phone applications in every county, eliminate unnecessary reporting, and simplify verification of medical expenses.(SB 882 Wiener)
+ Continue fighting college student hunger, including creation of the Foster Youth College Meal Plan
+ Restore state funding for nutritious meals to low-income children in child care.
+ Create and sustain hunger-free schools by increasing their capacity to provide healthy school meals free of charge to all students, and protecting against student meal debt.
+ Extend food assistance to all low-income Californians regardless of immigration status
+ Remove administrative barriers to reaching 150,000 Californians who are homeless with CalFresh benefits. Increase outreach and ease of application for people without homes & end criminalization of volunteer groups feeding homeless neighbors in public.
+ End cuts made over many years to SSI cash grants to seniors and people with disabilities
Climate Change Could Threaten California Leadership in Fruits and Vegetables
From Politico’s “Morning Ag”: “The Mississippi River Delta region could be the "next California" of fruit and vegetable production, as climate change continues to scramble the geography of agriculture, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund. More than a third of all U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of fruits and nuts are grown in California, but hotter, drier weather and increasingly severe disasters could strain the state's farm production in the future. Read the report. “