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!
May 26th, 2017
Current News and Recent Articles on Hunger
A week at the very vortex at the center of the universe, as policies related to feeding hungry Americans locally and nationally converged almost literally on the same day. On Monday our state Assemblymembers voted to increase SSI benefits, but not for another four years: then on Tuesday, LA County Board of Supervisors resolved to help thousands of Angelenos enroll in CalFresh (SNAP) while the President released a budget proposal that would practically demolish the program. Here’s what you can do, below (for starters):
- Urgent Action on State Budget Needed
- Trump vs Trump Apointee on Agriculture
- County Passes Resolution to Increase CalFresh Enrollment
Urgent Action on State Budget Needed
This week, the CA State Legislature released their budget proposals in response to the Governor’s May Revision. Despite all of our organizing this year, the Legislature decided to NOT include an increase in SSI Grant Amounts to the 2017-2018 budget. With our seniors, blind and people with disabilities being left out in the cold once again, WE NEED YOUR HELP, AND WE NEED YOUR VOICE to let CA Legislature know that THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
So we are organizing several actions across the State before the conference committee meets to put forth a final version of the budget. :
Northern California: We will be taking a bus from the Bay Area to the Capitol on Thursday, June 1st and will meet up with partners in Sacramento to let our legislators know that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
LA Area: Two things going on:
One----We will be meeting in LA to demand senate Leadership take action.
Two----Call these Senators to urge them to increase SSI/SSP in the state budget. The message is simple: “Please increase the State Supplemental Payment to SSI to help the 1.3 million in California who get SSI to rise above the poverty level and afford the housing and food that will keep them healthy and not starving .” Call anytime between now and next Friday, maybe even keep calling after that. Tell all your friends and neighbors to call, and especially people who are struggling right now to live getting only the SSI payment.
Senator Kevin de Leon (916) 651-4024
Senator Holly Mitchell (916) 651-4030
Senator Ricardo Lara (916) 651-4033
Sacramento Contact: Jared McCreary [email protected] (951) 809-6598
Trump vs Trump Apointee on Agriculture
This past Tuesday, President Trump released a budget proposal that took after social programs with the glee of Jack Nicholson running around with an ax in “The Shining.” Massive cuts of $800 billion in spending were proffered, including just about every anti-hunger program in the country from Meals on Wheels to WIC to the biggest of all, SNAP, with a 25% cut proposed overall to the nation’s flagship anti-hunger program.
Politico’s Morning Agriculture reports the Trump budget:
“would slash USDA spending on mandatory farm bill programs by $228 billion over a decade, including cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by more than 25 percent and reducing billions in farm subsidies.
“….Trump's budget would cut more than $190 billion over 10 years from SNAP, with a small percentage of the savings attributed to stricter work requirements for adults who don't have children and aren't disabled, according to budget documents released by the Office of Management and Budget on Monday. The vast majority of cuts would come from making states match 20 percent of the federal outlay.”
Combined with the proposed demolition of the Affordable Care Act, the two measures would result in a $1.6 trillion transfer of wealth to the richest Americans and a setback of biblical proportions.
Trump’s proposal also cuts farm subsidies and other government grants that help the rural voters who the media always tells us are chief among those who put him in office.
As has become the usual pattern with the Trump administration, Trump’s own appointee to the position of Secretary of Agriculture speaks from a different universe about SNAP, other anti-hunger programs and farm subsidies.
Former Governor of Georgia and now Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue had previously stated that he did not support any changes to SNAP, repeating the time honored slogan in so many words of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, in recent Congressional testimony, he seemed to weasel his way into a half hearted defense of Trump’s cuts, saying:
“We knew, and in the wise creation of the supplemental nutrition program was a temporary program really for unemployment there. We know what the unemployment levels are compared to where they peaked in previous years, and we see those going down. That’s why we’ve been able to achieve some savings there.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.), in her questions to Sec. Perdue, stated that, “…. my hope is that this budget document is dead on arrival because I believe it cruel, I believe it heartless, and I believe it inhumane.” Her response to Perdue’s claim of savings due to unemployment going down:
“$193 billion is not achieving some savings. It’s gutting a program.”
She added “to go after this program in this way, as I said, it is not about the values of this great nation and what we are about. We don’t stop feeding children. Robert Kennedy says in a nation of abundance, poverty is evil. And this is evil if we do this.”
And Agriculture Subcommittee Ranking Member Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D., Ga.) indicated yesterday that, “I, and virtually all of my colleagues who value the admonitions from Jesus in the 25th chapter of Matthew regarding the ‘least of these,’ are strongly opposed to this wrong-headed attempt to save money by cutting a program that helps children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and adults struggling with low wages and/or temporary joblessness to avoid hunger. These proposals do not match our Nation’s values and fail the test of basic human decency. We as a Nation can and should do better for the most vulnerable among us.”
County Passes Resolution to Increase CalFresh Enrollment
On Tuesday May 23, Los Angeles County made its boldest proclamation yet regarding increasing enrollment in CalFresh, calling for a 20% increase in sign ups for the food assistance program, which is underutilized in the County---leaving over a billion dollars of federal money unused.
Board of Supervisors Votes to Increase CalFresh Participation: Motion Aims to Reduce Hunger, Improve Public Health and Support The Economy
It is a little-known fact that more than half a million low-income households in LA County are experiencing food insecurity. The CalFresh Program provides supplemental benefits to these households so they can buy nutritious food at supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets. However, 1 out of 3 eligible LA households are not taking advantage of this important program.
The benefits of CalFresh participation are significant and go beyond simply providing healthy food to low-income families. Studies show that adults who received CalFresh as children have greater high school completion rates and lower rates of stunted growth, obesity and heart disease. CalFresh also stimulates local economic activity and increases jobs in the food production and distribution businesses.
In an effort to increase the participation rates among LA households, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by LA County Supervisors Kuehl and Hahn to instruct the Director of Public Social Services (DPSS) to create a specialized unit with existing DPSS staff and resources to identify opportunities to increase enrollment, retention, and reporting, and to adopt a goal of increasing CalFresh participation by no less than 20 % over two years. If the County were able to raise participation to 100%, LA could receive an estimated $1.8 billion in additional federal funding, and the increased participation would also mean another $2.1 billion in local economic activity.
“The CalFresh Program is the first line of defense against poverty and food insecurity for low-income families and communities,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “This motion helps ensure that the County is doing its part in ensuring that residents can put nutritious food on the table and lead healthy lives.”
"There are families going hungry in LA County despite the fact that they qualify for help," said Supervisor Janice Hahn. "CalFresh can make a world of difference for a family in need and we have to do a better job in LA County making sure our most vulnerable residents know that help is available."
This motion is one of several efforts made by Supervisor Kuehl to ensure that low-income County residents can meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Since 2015, Supervisor Kuehl has authored County motions to raise the minimum wage, establish the County’s Affordable Housing Plan, and open a Center for Financial Empowerment.