News Update Apr 20th 2016

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!

April 20th 2016

Hunger Action Day 2016

Anti Hunger Training Friday April 22nd

When and where: Friday April 22, 6 pm to 8 pm Community Health Councils, 3731 Stocker St. LA CA 90008

Join us for this training---especially if you are coming to Hunger Action Day! (See next item) Free training educates you on:

  • The situation of hunger and food injustice in 2016
  • Current anti-poverty legislation in the state of California
  • How to speak effectively to elected officials about hunger and poverty

Light meal provided . RSVP

Hunger Action Day May 24-25: LA to Sacramento

Join Hunger Action LA in traveling to Sacramento to educate our elected officials about poverty and about state measures that can help alleviate it, including:

  • Increases in spending for our seniors and people with disabilities
  • Expanding food assistance to recent immigrants and to those in areas that need emergency water
  • Incentives to help our struggling farmers while supplying low income populations with fresh fruits and vegetables

Leaving by bus from LA on Tuesday May 24 (RSVP first): Sacramento activities and return trip are next day , May 25. Lodging provided: donation requested, no one turned away. Space limited so rsvp or contact [email protected] for more information. You can also make your own travel arrangements (contact us for coordination on setting up visits to legislators) OR to participate by phone or computer on the day of the event. Contact [email protected] for more information.


Federal Budget Proposal Would Slash Food Assistance

From our allies at MAZON:

The US House of Representatives recently voted on a budget proposal for FY 2017. Though the Republican committee leadership titled this proposal “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” it raises serious questions about who is actually strengthened by their plan and on whose backs it is balanced.

The House Budget Committee’s budget proposes harmful policy changes and funding cuts to safety net programs that provide critical assistance to millions of Americans. They propose to slash funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and convert the program to a block grant to states. The changes in this budget would end food assistance and cut benefits for millions of low-income families.

Please join us in telling your Representative that this budget does not reflect our nation’s values and priorities.
Take Action to Oppose House Budget

Coalition on Human Needs also gives the opportunity to encourage Congress to adapt the Peoples Budget instead:

Send Congress a Message: Vote for The Peoples' Budget

Vote for the People's Budget! Each year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) offers an alternative budget resolution to the “austerity” budgets supported by the House Majority and Speaker Ryan. The People's Budget offers a solid blueprint to:

  • Invest more than $1 trillion in housing, education, transportation, clean energy and safe water to create millions of jobs
  • Prevent cuts, restore social spending and reduce poverty by half in 10 years
  • Increase educational opportunities, provide Pre-K and debt-free college for all
  • Expand, don't cut, Social Security and health care benefits
  • Close corporate tax loopholes, tax Wall Street speculation and raise taxes on the top 2%
  • Redirect wasteful Pentagon spending and direct to peoples needs, ending Pentagon pork and the overseas contingency "slush fund"The People's Budget is backed by hard numbers and research by the Economic Policy Institute.

You can read the FY201 People's Budget here. In March 2015, the FY2016 CPC People's Budget received 96 votes in the House—a record number. We need to increase this in 2016!
Read the Summary of the People's Budget

More Obesity Worldwide than Ever: Food Industry Responds, Sort Of

The World Health Organization reports recently that:

  • In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.
  • Overall, about 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) were obese in 2014.
  • In 2014, 39% of adults aged 18 years and over (38% of men and 40% of women) were overweight.
  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014

In addition to recommendations for individuals, the report adds that The food industry can play a significant role in promoting healthy diets by:

  • reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods;
  • ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
  • practicing responsible marketing especially those aimed at children and teenagers;
  • ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace

World Health Organization Reports Highest Rates of Obesity, Overweight, and Diabetes
World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Diabetes, Obesity

In light of these findings it’s a shame that the proposal for a 2 cent per ounce tax on soda has died in the California legislature. No one is saying that the diabetes epidemic can entirely be blamed on soda, but soda is cheap, ubiquitous and definitely does contribute to obesity and diabetes. With such huge profits it’s not unreasonable to ask the industry to pay back some funds if for no other reason than keeping their customers alive:

Soda Tax Proposal Withdrawn in CA State Legislature

Big Food Company To Warn People: Don’t Eat Too Much Of Our Pasta Sauce: From Huffington Post: “Mars Food plans to tell customers to eat some of its Dolmio pasta sauces and macaroni cheese only once a week to maintain a balanced diet because of the products’ high levels of salt, sugar or fat.The scheme is part of a larger initiative by the privately owned U.S. food company to encourage healthier eating at a time when large food multinationals, or Big Food, are coming under increasing pressure from public health advocates and regulators struggling to fight a growing obesity epidemic. The plan, however, does not extend to Mars’ chocolate or sweets businesses, whose brands include M&M’s, Snickers and Starburst”

Mars Tells Customers To Just Eat Macaroni Once a Week

If You're Hospitalized More, You Are Probably Hungrier

A small study has revealed that people with higher rates of hospitalization either don't have regular access to healthy food or are at risk of not having enough food at home.

In California this would likely include most of the population receiving SSI, who struggle on $889 per month to cover all expenses and aren’t allowed to receive CalFresh.
People in the Hospital More Suffer More Hunger at Home

County Passes Urban Agriculture Policy

The LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the final ordinance and program details of the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program. With this new program, property owners can lease their land to farm or community garden operators in order to receive a reduction on property taxes. The principle objective behind the program, enabled by Assembly Bill 551 passed in 2014, is to increase urban access to local fresh fruits and vegetables while revitalizing vacant lots that might otherwise be blighted.

“The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program has the ability to be a significant tool in addressing the alarming issues of insufficient food access and blight that permeate too many ofour communities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council is assisting in tracking potential sites across the County. If you live near or pass by a vacant lot, please send the cross streets to [email protected] to determine eligibility.

Many thanks to the Urban Ag Working Group who advocated steadfastly for the County’s adoption of the plan, after the state originally created the policy in 2014.

If you are interested in being part of the Urban Ag Working Group, contact Francesca at [email protected].

Details from LA Sentinel on the policy:
County Moves Forward with Urban Ag Incentive Zones

Two Contrasting Tales of Rescuing Food that Would Otherwise be Wasted

In spite of what would be considered universal revulsion at 40% of our landfills consisting of wasted food while people go hungry, there are varying reactions if you should actually try to salvage food and give it to people who need it.

In one case, the authorities were convinced it was a great idea:
“Waste Not OC” is highlighted in this LA Times article. It’s an initiative under which the very Health Department that grades Orange County’s stores and restaurants also advises those places that they can, under the Good Samaritan act, legally donate perishable food without liability, to food pantries, shelters, group homes and other locations, as well as instructing them how to donate food safely.
Waste Not OC

In another case…
The Azusa school district apparently hasn’t heard of the Good Samaritan Act. They fired a coach who collected fruit uneaten by many of the students and re-distributed it to students who wanted it. In all fairness to the district, the US Department of Agriculture’s own rules make it complicated to redistribute school food, and there are disagreements over what the details are.
School Coach Fired for Redistributing Fruit

USDA Sponsors Farmers Market EBT Signup Event, May 17th

Farmers market or produce stand managers interested in accepting CalFresh benefits can get their license to do so, and free wireless equipment, in an event on the South Lawn of City Hall on Tuesday, May 17, from 10 am to 2 pm. The event is sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and co sponsored by The Ecology Center, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, LA Community Action Network, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, and Hunger Action LA.
Contact: Brenda Mutuma, USDA 415 705 1365 [email protected] or Iesha Siler 213 473 9927
See flyer for more information
Farmers Market Sign Up for EBT May 17

Mobile Markets Still Forbidden to Accept SNAP?: Longtime South LA resident Renee Gunter is now running a produce store out of a shipping container and bringing good organic produce to a true food desert area. The following LA Times article explains that as a “mobile market”, her store isn’t allowed to accept EBT.
Longtime Resident Brings Organic Produce to South LA




Housing and Homelessness Updates

Renters Day April 20: The third annual Renters' Day LA will be celebrated on Wednesday April 20th at City Hall.We will convene on the south lawn steps of City Hall for a rally and press conference with Councilmember Cedillo 12:30PM. We will go inside Council Chambers for a special Housing Committee meeting, Renters' Day edition . The focus of this special meeting will be LA's rent burden crisis with formal recommendations presented to the committee by Renters Day LA as to what the City must do to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of LA renters. (Courtesy Renters Day LA) Renters Day recommends: City limit on evictions for demolitions & conversions: Ending unaffordable & unfair rent increases: Funding for new affordable housing

Police cannot seize homeless property indiscriminately:LA-CAN and LA Catholic Worker have won an injunction barring LAPD from seizing property without sufficient notice, from homeless people (Thanks to John Imani and RAC for this link)

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