News Update: December 15, 2014

Winter Shelter 2014-2015

The recent welcome rains for our parched SoCal earth are not so welcome for those who have to work, travel, or live full time in them. LA Homeless Services Authority have announced the winter 2015 shelter sites. The official website states that Admittance to the shelters is available to single individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals needing emergency shelter can get free transportation to and from the shelter locations from any of the pick-up points throughout the City and County.

24 hour shelters available:

Families seeking assistance at winter shelter locations will be connected to the County’s free information and referral line by dialing 211 from any touch tone phone in the county. 2-1-1 will offer families appropriate shelter and supportive service linkages through LAHSA’s Family Solutions Systems.

A Times Reports on Slavery in Mexico’s Farms/Why You should Support Fair Trade

In the first of four part series, “a Times reporter and photographer find that thousands of laborers at Mexico's mega-farms endure harsh conditions and exploitation while supplying produce for American consumers.” Over $7 billion of Mexican tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce come to WalMart, Whole Foods, Subway, and Safeway, major corporations which say that their Mexican suppliers are committed to decent fair conditions for the farm laborers.

But the Times reporter and photographer found workers in conditions such as no working toilets or accessible drinking water, wages illegally withheld by the growers, workers forced to spend their whole wages on basic necessities sold by the “company store”, and kept from escaping the misery with barbed wire fences and threats of violence.

Mexico Camps, Products of…

The Times also featured an editorial on the topic, “Want to help farmworkers? Tell stores to carry fair trade products.

LA Times Fair Trade 12 13 2014

Learn more about Fair Trade locally:

Editorials: Solve Poverty with Guaranteed Income, Solve Homelessness with Housing

A recent Newsweek editorial brings up an idea that’s been around quite a while; a Guaranteed Annual Income that would replace the current patchwork of federal and state welfare and food assistance programs, with their bureaucracy, income and asset tests, rent receipt and birth certificate requirements, etc. President Nixon in the early ‘70s proposed such a system: the current SSI program is the descendant of the original pilot for that never-realized program. The Guaranteed Annual Income would be much cheaper than the current welfare system and would put participants and workers through far less headache---if the political and logistic hurdles could be overcome in its implementation:

Newsweek: How to fix poverty

If a Guaranteed Annual Income would simplify cash assistance programs, Housing First models would achieve more in ending homelessness, for less money. Several L.A. organizations implement Housing First but for the most part there is not enough available stock in L.A. The Economist examines the Housing First model, which is being used in countries around the developed world: Housing First model

(Thanks to John Imani for forwarding the Economist piece)

Food Prices Will Rise In Spite of Falling Gas Prices

It usually follows that food prices fall when gas prices fall, due to the decrease in the cost of transporting the food.
In spite of the lower fuel costs, the USDA is predicting hikes of 4.5 to 5.5 percent for beef, veal and pork. Poultry, seafood, dairy, and fruits and vegetables are also expected to climb by 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
Among the contributing factors are the extended drought, which has reduced the size of Texas’ cattle herds and impacted produce, and a diarrhea virus affecting the pig population.

More on the Virus Drought and it's affect on Grocery Prices from

Mayors Conference Report on Hunger and Homelessness

The annual Conference of Mayors report on Hunger and Homelessness states that emergency food requests were up in most of the 25 surveyed cities, as well as the number of families experiencing homelessness.

Mayors Report Increase in Hunger and Homelessness

How Child Nutrition Fared in the Federal Budget

From Margo G. Wootan, D.Sc.Director, Nutrition Policy, Center for Science in the Public Interest:

Congress has reached an agreement on Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015, and as expected there are policy provisions (riders) regarding school food, WIC, and the Prevention Fund.

Opponents of healthy school food fought hard to roll back the school nutrition standards, but the core nutrition provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act remain in place. Members of Congress heard from constituents and listened.

We're pleased that Congress didn't waive all school lunch standards, but we continue to believe that the details of school foods should be determined by health professionals and child nutrition experts, not by politics.

The riders for school foods allow states to grant exemptions from the July 2014 whole grain standards (that 100% of grains in school meals be whole grain rich) to those schools that demonstrate a hardship in procuring those foods (exemptions will be given school district by school district, grain by grain). The sodium provision means that Target 1 sodium levels for meals and snacks will be in place until USDA shows that there is enough scientific research to establish that sodium reduction is beneficial to children. We’re confident that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will confirm that the science is strong. The rider language is attached.

The WIC language allows white potatoes back into the food packages.

ABLE act: Rare Bipartisan Cooperation to help People with Disabilities

From the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill:

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to approve a bill that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act passed by a vote of 404 to 17 on Wednesday. The measure will now move to the Senate.

Under current rules, many individuals with disabilities can have no more than $2,000 in assets in order to qualify for needed government benefits. The ABLE Act would dramatically alter that scenario, allowing people with disabilities to establish special accounts at any financial institution where they could save up to $14,000 annually under current gift-tax limitations.

The accounts could accrue $100,000 without jeopardizing eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. Meanwhile, the legislation ensures that those with disabilities can retain Medicaid coverage no matter their ABLE account balance.

Funds deposited in the proposed accounts could be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses. Much like 529 college savings plans, interest earned on savings in the accounts would be tax-free.

With significant bipartisan support, the bill is being called the broadest legislation centering on people with disabilities to move forward since passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act a quarter-century ago.

Though widely supported in the disability community, a provision limiting eligibility for ABLE accounts to individuals with conditions occurring before the age of 26 has led to misgivings from some groups including the National Council on Independent Living, the National Disability Rights Network and United Cerebral Palsy.

Meanwhile, some members of the House objected to the bill over concerns that it will be paid for in part through tweaks to Medicare."

Global Food Security Act

From Bread for the World:

Congress looks to be voting on the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656) this week.

This act would put in place a framework for the federal government that is a smart approach to providing assistance to people who are hungry. It recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to make more food available, but we need quality, nutritious food and systems to get it to the people who need it most.

The program this act would put in place would work on a local level to empower small farmers, growing local economies while feeding hungry people. It's a win for everybody.

Congress has only a few days of work left in this session. With this bill coming to the House floor, passage of the Global Food Security Act becomes critical. We need you to act now. Call (800) 826-3688 or email your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to pass the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656)!

Let Congress know that in a world in which nearly 805 million people — one in every eight — grapple with hunger on a daily basis, U.S. leadership is vital in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty over the long-term. This legislation is a big step on the road to conquer the challenge.

International Year of Soils without Oils

From the Biosafety Alliance:

As you know 2015 has been designated as the International Year of Soils by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, honoring our commitment to protect healthy soils for healthy life. The Biosafety Alliance and allies are pleased to announce the 2015 Soil Not Oil Campaign to advocate for the sustainable and regenerative management of soils while reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

The Soil Not Oil Campaign will promote respect for soils worldwide, highlight the ways that shifting agricultural practices is key to combatting climate change, and call for integrated action on sustainable agriculture and clean energy to ensure a safe and healthy planet for generations to come.

That is why -- in partnership with dozens of other kindred organizations -- the Biosafety Alliance is the calling on all like-minded organizations, scientist, farmers and individuals, to join the Soil Not Oil Coalition to participate in an educational campaign and/or endorse two major events planned for 2015:

  • Soils Not Oil International Conference, (Tentative date) September 4 & 5, Richmond, California.
  • Soil not Oil Mass March, (Tentative date) September 6th, San Francisco, California
    This will be a mass march demanding urgent, large-scale action addressing climate chaos and dangerous agricultural practices that threaten our soil, air, water, and way of life.

Supporters of this effort are: Biodiversity for Livable Climate, Biosafety Alliance, California State Grange, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Farmworker Families, Community to Community, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Food Democracy Now, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, NUTIVA Foundation, Organic Consumer Association, Semillas de Vida, South Central Farmers Cooperative, The Acequia Institute, and Amazon Watch.

If you are interested in endorsing and partnering, please email [email protected] find out more information about the coalition, and how your organization can engage in the campaign and events.

In solidarity,

Miguel Robles, Biosafety Alliance Project Director, 415 3681891

FASGI Rice Drive

Our fifth year that FASGI has hosted The Rice Drive- Rice for Health Life. FASGI is preparing to distribute 5lbs of rice to 200 low- income seniors/families. This means we need at least 1,000lbs of rice! We need your help. With your rice donations, we can provide basic necessities for our low-income seniors and local families.With your help we can feed a low income individual for two weeks. We accept $15.00 to buy 5lbs of rice. Please make your check payable to FASGI and mail to 135 N. Park View Street, Los Angeles, California, 90026 or donate at click "Donation" button.

Thank you= Maraming Salamat PO!

For more information call the following individuals :

Gabriel Guzman and Cynthia Ramos
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