November 20th, 2018:
Please mark your calendar for a week from today—Giving Tuesday. HALA will be again asking your help with donations to keep the SSI Market Match program going to help vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities access great fresh food until they can get CalFresh beginning next summer! Please consider a 5,10,20 or 40 $ donation at: https://www.give65.org/freshfood
- Help Fire Victims by Bringing Items to Donate to Mar Vista FM
- Farmworkers Again Have to Work Through Fires
- Send Comments to Oppose New Public Charge Rules Proposed for Immigrants—Deadline December 10
- Change in House Ups Pressure to Pass Farm Bill Before End of Year—Fire Prevention and Food Assistance Both In The Bill
- Update on New SSI Eligibility for CalFresh
- Next Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Day December 1st, Crenshaw Farmers Market
- How Trade Wars and Surplus Production Have Impacted Farming in Recent Months
- A Guide to Assist Homeless and Low Income Students
Help Fire Victims by Bringing Items to Donate to Mar Vista FM
You can help your fellow Californians who have lost their homes in the fires. You can bring gift cards (for stores like Target etc.), blankets, clothing, toys and pet items to the Mar Vista Farmers Market, Sunday 8 am to 2 pm at the intersection of Venice and Grand View Blvd in Los Angeles, 90066. Most organizations helping fire victims do prefer cash donations. The management of the Mar Vista market travel regularly to Northern California and are helping victims there.
Farmworkers Again Have to Work Through Fires
Thanksgiving is certainly one time we think a lot about food. While blessing the stuffed turkey (perhaps one with yet more birds stuffed inside it as in the "turducken" popular in some parts), are we thanking those who grow and prepare the food? And how are farmers doing economically? On both counts we may need to pray a little harder, while making practical policy changes.
First, the farmworkers. Many of them continue to work 10 or more hours per day in areas close to the fires where the air quality is so dangerous that protective masks are needed—and they aren’t being provided with masks. You might remember last time this happened that volunteer groups providing masks were hassled during last December’s Thomas fire.
There is also a site set up to provide disaster relief for immigrant families excluded from FEMA:
Send Comments to Oppose New Public Charge Rules Proposed for Immigrants—Deadline December 10th
The Trump administration is attacking immigrants on many fronts—hysteria about caravans and proposals to strip citizenship rights being just the two latest—but here’s another one that you can directly fight:
The Trump administration's proposed "public charge" regulation has been published in the Federal Register for public comment. This proposal is a targeted attack on our immigrant neighbors that, if it becomes law, would extend harm to entire communities across California, but with your help-we can fight it. The public has 60 days to comment on the rule, which means there's time to raise our voices and prevent this cruel attack on immigrant families.
The newly proposed rule would expand the definition of "public charge" to prevent immigrants from obtaining permanent residency (also known as a green card) if they utilize essential public programs, like CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and Section 8 housing vouchers. Currently, "public charge" only applies to those primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, that is receiving the majority of their income from cash aid or relying on government institutionalization.
The result is that many immigrant families, who are legally entitled to these benefit programs, will not apply, for fear that it will make it harder for them to become legal permanent residents. This means innocent people needlessly suffering in the wealthiest country in the world, which no person of conscience should tolerate.
Thanks to California Food Policy Advocates, Community Services Unlimited, and Protecting Immigrant Families
Change in House Ups Pressure to Pass Farm Bill Before End of Year—Fire Prevention and Food Assistance Both In The Bill
The federal Farm Bill, which reauthorizes SNAP and other anti-hunger programs as well as farm support programs (and forest management) was delayed from passage in September due to strong partisan differences. The House of Representatives version, dominated by conservative Republicans, narrowly passed a version that intensely ratcheted up the already-existing SNAP work requirements, as per the wishes of President Trump and others, that would result in tens of thousands of people being kicked off food assistance. The Senate, almost evenly split between Democrats and moderate Republicans wishing to get a bill passed without rocking the boat on SNAP so that farmers could know what government support that they might get over the next 5 years, passed a bill with overwhelming support.
The Democratic takeover of the House presents House Republicans with a stark choice. Either they compromise and try to pass a Farm Bill before their majority leaves office at the end of the year—meaning they probably give up a lot of what they want in the work requirements—or postpone the Farm Bill till next year, meaning they would most definitely give up all of what they want in the work requirements. (Republicans will still control the Senate, but the Senate version of the Farm Bill doesn’t mess with SNAP at all.)
The Farm Bill is also the home to funding for forest management, of utmost importance given the record breaking and horribly tragic fires here in California. The President stated this past weekend that $500 million is in the Farm Bill proposal and that the Farm Bill is moving along rapidly. And indeed, rumor has it that there could be an agreement on a new House proposal as soon as this coming Monday. Stay tuned and be ready to call or email representatives about this most important legislation—though it could pass pretty quickly overnight!
Update on New SSI Eligibility for CalFresh: Request a Training for Your Agency
As you may have heard, California’s 1.3 million senior and disabled residents receiving Supplemental Security Income, and struggling below the poverty line, will finally be eligible for CalFresh food assistance beginning June 1st of 2019.
There will be a massive effort to educate recipients about their new eligibility and help facilitate enrollment. It’s projected that in LA County alone there are 160,000 eligible households.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services is looking for volunteer agencies to assist the community with completing and submitting the CalFresh application via the online application system. They provide a 2 ½ hour training, and for agencies with 10 or more people being trained they can schedule a training directly at your agency. For more information, agencies should contact Rogers Munoz at RogersMunoz@dpss.lacounty.gov. Individual SSI recipients interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agencies who work with SSI recipients who would like an "in service training" on the new policy can schedule a training with Hunger Action LA. Please contact email@example.com.
Next Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Day December 1st, Crenshaw Farmers Market
Help guide visually impaired customers around the Crenshaw Farmers Market!
RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Saturday December 1st
Location this time is: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Farmers Market 3650 West MLK Blvd. LA CA 90008
(Look for the Promenade of the Rave Cinemas at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza)
Time: 10 am as the market begins. going until 1 pm (Possibly ending earlier for some participants)
Parking : Covered parking on site and other parking nearby
What will happen: 12 to 20 blind or low vision shoppers who will arrive separately using ACCESS. You'll pair up with one of the shoppers (or two or more of you will help lead a group) around the market. If you're a people-person, this job is for you! Making conversation is the most important part of the day. Blind and low vision people often don't get help with folks who can describe the products and food they are shopping for. This will be the 9th occurrence of this event (it's usually scheduled once per month.)
A brief orientation on how to guide blind/low vision people precedes the day of shopping, conversation and fellowship.
If you can drive, that is an enormous help too: in the past we have usually driven participants back to their homes, as ACCESS is not always reliable. Please indicate if you are willing to drive, and include your address so we can match you with a shopper who is not far from where you live. This is for dropping off people after the market,
Volunteers are required to sign a simple waiver. Let us know if you can only be there for part of the day. Please provide email address as details change sometimes.
How Trade Wars and Surplus Production Have Impacted Farming in Recent Months
Farming is one business in which the better you are at what you do, the less money you will make, to the point of financial ruin.
Like cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving? Cranberry producers in Wisconsin have so much extra that they are destroying about a fourth of the crop to prop up the prices. The farmers’ efficiency has led to the glut, but it’s also been impacted by a 40% retaliatory tariff on cranberries that China placed in response to the Trump administration tariffs. Some will be used as fertilizer, and some of what’s going to be destroyed has already been in storage a while. But it is very difficult for farmers to gauge how much to cut back in production, and they are subject to market forces in a punishing way: 25% of Wisconsin's Cranberry Crop To Be Destroyed
"U.S. net farm income will fall to $65.7 billion this year, down 47 percent from just five years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts" –according to Reuters
President Trump’s trade wars with China have cost U.S. soybean producers their largest market. They are frantically storing away massive surpluses of soybeans, hoping to find someone, anyone, to purchase them, or hoping to keep them from rotting until (they hope) the trade wars calm down and things go back to business as usual. Some are sacrificing time they need to harvest to scour the country and the world looking for customers.
At one point, the Trump administration responded to the woes of pork producers affected by the trade wars by agreeing to buy a quarter million dollars of pork (about 144,000 pounds of ham products.)…
But not so fast! Food and Water Watch, which keeps track of such payments, noted the timing of the announcement was right after midterms, and the proposed beneficiary, Smithfield, is owned by …a Chinese conglomerate! Taxpayer money intended to help U.S. farmers was going to be sent to the very country that Trump had accused of hurting us. So the deal was cancelled, as Politico reports in Morning AG:
"USDA canceled a $240,000 contract with Smithfield Foods after public complaints that the Chinese-owned pork-processing giant was set to receive taxpayer funds that were intended to help U.S. farmers and ranchers suffering from Beijing's retaliatory duties, our Catherine Boudreau reports. (Smithfield requested that the contract be terminated, and no funds had been transferred, according to USDA.)"
The Environmental Working Group recently made public the names of ag producers receiving payments through USDA's trade-assistance package. The LA Times reports that "California dairies collected $10.5 million in emergency federal aid for losses caused by the trade war", making them the largest beneficiaries. Environmental Working Group criticized the fact that some payments went to absentee farmers living in urban areas.
A Guide to Assist Homeless and Low Income Students
Supporting California's Homeless & Low-Income College Students: A Practical Guide, California Homeless Youth Project and Schoolhouse Connection (November 2018) provides timely, concise overviews on the top 5 needs of homeless and low-income students at the California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and Universities of California as reported by college homeless liaisons. The guide also highlights existing resources and methods to support the success of at-risk student groups.