Peggy Gooday

  • posted about Home on Facebook 2015-08-27 15:56:00 -0700
    Hunger Action LA / Home

    Hunger Action Los Angeles

    Food Justice News October 27, 2020:

    THREE UPDATES ON SNAP (CALFRESH)

    1. Emergency Declaration Allows CalFresh to Be Used for Hot Food at Grocery Stores Through Nov 22

    2. Major Victory in Defeat of Government-Sanctioned Indentured Servitude Rule in SNAP Program

    3. Trump Administration Still Fighting to Deny Food Assistance to 48 Million Americans

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    1. Emergency Declaration Allows CalFresh to Be Used for Hot Food at Grocery Stores Through Nov 22

    From the US Department of Agriculture, sent to SNAP authorized retailers Monday October 26:

    “Due to wildfires and effective immediately, retail food stores licensed by USDA and located in the following California counties may accept SNAP benefits in exchange for HOT foods and foods intended to be consumed on retailer premises: Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Ventura and Yolo. These special rules are in effect through November 22, 2020. When hot foods are purchased with EBT benefits through November 22, 2020 the purchases are NOT subject to sales tax as the foods are considered eligible during this period. We encourage SNAP authorized retailers to post a special notice letting SNAP customers know that they can use their EBT benefits to purchase hot foods and, where practical, may remain on the premises to consume those foods”

    Here's a picture from a local grocery to give you an idea what foods are being allowed:

     

     

    Notice that this emergency provision is different than the existing rule that already allows senior,disabled and homeless persons to get hot prepared meals with CalFresh at certain restaurants that accept it, in a few California counties (Los Angeles is one of them.)

     

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     2. Major Victory in Defeat of Government-Sanctioned Indentured Servitude Rule in SNAP Program

    A federal judge just struck down, last week, a proposed rule by the Trump administration to restrict state’s ability to help certain people get food assistance regardless of how bad the unemployment situation is. And since apparently for some political officials in our country it’s super urgent to halt this group from getting help, it’s worth going into the history of it a little bit.

    The SNAP program has a rule that if you’re not disabled, don’t have kids at home, and you’re between age 18 and 50, you have to be working 20 hours a week, or enrolled in a kind of “workfare” program in order to receive these survival food benefits. You can go up to 3 months without complying with those rules before they cut you off of benefits for a total of 36 months.

    The potential victims of this regulation were termed “Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents” , or ABAWDS, a bureaucratic shorthand that succeeds like much government-speak in dehumanizing its subjects: ABAWD sounds like an alien from Star Wars (or Dune, if you prefer.)

    This harsh requirement, championed by former representative and at one time Ohio Governor John Kasich who loves to portray himself as moderate,  during the Newt Gingrich-initiated onslaught of “welfare reform” in the 1990s,  had exceptions: states could eliminate the rule for certain people or waive it for certain geographic areas during times of high unemployment. And, states could if they wanted provide “workfare” programs to help participants meet the requirement. Many states chose not to bother with that.

    Nationwide, states almost universally implemented a total suspension of the rule due to the high unemployment of the post-2008 financial crash. Most of these waivers expired a couple of years ago as the economy rebounded and slowly states began re-implementing the rule. Then, the Trump administration decided that waivers basically shouldn’t exist, so they raised the bar considerably for states to implement these rules, in a proposal the put forth in late 2018. They were prepared to cavalierly terminate 700,000 people from the food assistance rolls.

    They went through the motion of running it past the public for approval: Hunger Action LA were among tens of thousands who submitted comments in early 2019 opposing. A very small number comparatively supported the comments. “Democracy” being what it is in the mind of someone who’s already hellbent on doing something, the Trump proposal went forward. It was challenged in court.

    Then came coronavirus, and the massive unemployment that has beset the country since March-April and getting worse in many places. While states wondered how they were going to get sufficient food to the newly jobless, the Trump administration prioritized fighting to maintain their new proposal; it was more important to them to cut 700,000 off of food assistance than to actually help people.

    On October 19 a federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s proposed rule. According to Western Center on Law and Poverty who led the fight to stop this proposal along with Impact Fund and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, “Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell called the USDA’s proposed rule “arbitrary and capricious,” particularly because the department failed to address the high number of people who would lose access to food, in the midst of a pandemic, if the dramatic rule change was implemented.”

    --Here is a link to Western Center on Law and Poverty’s statement on the decision.

    Western Center also remind us that “Last year, California Representative Barbara Lee introduced H.R.2809 – the Improving Access to Nutrition Act of 2019, to end the SNAP ABAWD Time Limit rule altogether. “ We can only hope the environment improves dramatically in which we can make such a move.

     

    Stock photo of a person between 18 and 50. Does this look like an alien-sounding "ABAWD" to you?

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    3. Trump Administration Still Fighting to Deny Food Assistance to 48 Million Americans

    Single adults weren’t the only people in the crosshairs of the Administration’s war on SNAP. The general American public was, as coronavirus hit hard and Congress rushed through emergency packages including a provision to lift all families to the maximum SNAP benefit level, for their family size, for a period of months earlier this year.

    On the face this is a great proposal but it has a paradoxical side effect as pointed out by H. Claire Brown in her article in The Counter:

    “When Congress initially approved the emergency allotment that boosted all SNAP benefits to the highest-allowable levels, USDA interpreted the law to mean that a single person in California who was receiving, say, $38 per month, would get a boost to around $194 per month. Ironically, this interpretation only helped higher earners enrolled in the program: Households that were already receiving the maximum monthly benefit—meaning they had the lowest net income—saw no change. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 60 percent of households already received the maximum benefit before the pandemic began.”

    https://thecounter.org/snap-trump-administration-court-rulings-challenge-covid-19/

    California was among the states that perceived the unfairness of this interpretation, and protested,  but to no avail; the feds did not grant additional assistance. However, Pennsylvania objected also and went to court, where they won an injunction in September under which they were able to provide extra assistance while the courts figured it all out. The Trump administration is continuing to fight this; Pennsylvania ultimately  could have to eat the cost of the extra assistance with no federal reimbursement. But never let anyone tell you that in the end “we’re all in this together working to fight hunger.” It depends on whose dime it’s on, and when the people who have all the money in the world for walls, wars and (oil) wells don’t want to spend it on the well-being of the working and the work-seeking, we most definitely part ways.

     

     

     

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    Food Justice News September 14 2020:

    Reports and updates today on food justice and food security issues from our friends at Public Health Foundation WIC, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and others:

    1. Food Assistance Bill for Low Income Californians On the Governor’s Desk
    2. USC Study Finds Food Insecurity in LA Rises Due to Covid
    3. Sorting Out New Eviction Rules September 2020
    4. Support WIC’s Ability To Serve New Moms Remotely

     

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    1. Food Assistance Bill for Low Income Californians On the Governor’s Desk

    (Reposted from Western Center on Law and Poverty)

     

    On Tuesday, Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and advocates will host a virtual press conference urging Governor Gavin Newsom to sign AB 826 (Santiago), a bill that would provide emergency food assistance to low-income Californians struggling financially due to COVID-19. 

                                                              

    AB 826, co-sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks, CHIRLA and the Western Center Law and Poverty, would establish a one-time fund to provide emergency food assistance for low-income Californians, regardless of legal status, financially struggling due to COVID-19. Each eligible adult would receive $600 to spend on groceries. With over 7 million Californians applying for unemployment insurance since March, this bill is crucial to address widespread food insecurity in our state.

      

    Assembly Member Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He also sits on the Assembly Committees on Public Safety, Health, Higher Education and Utilities and Energy. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.

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    2. USC Study Finds Food Insecurity in LA Rises Due to Covid

    USC has released The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Insecurity in Los Angeles County:April to May 2020. And for LA it shows that non surprisingly things are tougher given that surviving in our expensive county was hard well before covid struck. From the press release by Jim Key: “In L.A., levels of economic insecurity have increased as a result of the pandemic and are substantially higher than in the rest of the nation. Among the newly unemployed, nearly 30% of Angelenos are currently experiencing mild to severe food insecurity — 8 points higher than the national average. And only 58% of Angelenos say they could handle a surprise $2,000 expense, compared to the national average of 68%.  

    Angelenos are worse off now largely because they were in a more precarious financial position from the start”.

    Press release for “Understanding Coronavirus in America”: https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/3224/understanding-coronavirus-survey-of-economic-insecurity/

    The full study found that “ Overall, 39.5% of low-income households experienced food insecurity at some time between April and May 2020.” It is interesting that a large majority of those experiencing hunger during covid were not accessing government food programs like CalFresh, even though more than 50% likely were eligible.

    https://publicexchange.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/USCLAC-Food-Insecurity-Report-April-%E2%80%93-May-2020.pdf

     

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     3. Sorting Out New Eviction Rules September 2020

    There’s good news and challenging news for tenants facing eviction due to circumstances caused by covid. On the one hand, the federal, state and LA County governments have all passed some form of temporary halts to eviction at least through the end of 2020. On the other hand, none of them forgive the rent owed, they simply allow payment to be deferred, and do not provide financial assistance to pay the rent. Sorting out the new mandates at the different levels can be confusing, and they also require an ability to prove that your inability to pay rent is related to the covid crisis---paperwork that may be difficult for many to complete. Considering the pre-exisiting menacing housing crisis engulfing LA County, these mandates may not help enough people. People should be aware of their rights, and a good source is the county’s www.stayhousedla.org . Here is a summary of what is happening now:

     

    National law: On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a federal order that prevents tenants from being evicted for not paying rent or without ​a valid reason (known as "just cause”) that is the fault of the tenant until December 31, 2020. For the emergency protection to apply, you must submit a written declaration to your landlord that you are experiencing COVID-19 related hardship and cannot pay your rent. This declaration must be sent each month as soon as you know you won’t be able to pay rent .

    Click here to download the declaration form provided by the CDC.

    State of California law:

    On August 31, 2020, the State of California passed tenant protections that prevent landlords from evicting tenants before February 1, 2021 without a valid reason or for any rent not paid between March 4 - January 31, 2021 due to loss of income or increased expenses associated with COVID-19.

    If you owe rent for any months from March 2020 to August 2020, you must submit a declaration form to your landlord. Once submitted, your landlord cannot evict you for not paying rent.

    If you can’t pay rent for any month from September 2020 to January 2021, you must submit a notice of hardship to your landlord stating that you can’t pay your rent because of a loss of income due to COVID-19 each and every month you get a notice about the rent owed. You must also pay a minimum of 25% of the total rent owed, by January 31, 2021. To satisfy this requirement, you can either pay over time, or you can make one payment as long as you pay the 25% of the rent before January 31, 2021.

     

    From the county website: “Neither the national nor the federal protections cancel rent. You are still responsible for paying any rent you miss.

    Also, while these laws protect you from eviction, it doesn’t mean your landlord won’t still try to evict you. If you receive an eviction lawsuit you must file and answer to the lawsuit. If you receive a notice or any kind of paperwork from the court, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Seek legal assistance now to understand your rights and successfully respond to an eviction in court.”

    “If you receive a notice from your landlord, or are experiencing threats or harassment, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Sign up for a free workshop to learn more about emergency protections and your rights and get connected to resources that can keep you in your home.”

     

    Find a Workshop

    More information including LA County rent freeze in certain parts of the county:

    https://www.stayhousedla.org/tenant_rights

     

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    4. Support WIC’s Ability To Serve New Moms Remotely

     

    The WIC program serves pregnant women, and kids age 5 and under, with food vouchers, nutrition education and more. During covid, waivers have allowed WIC to issue benefits to families remotely rather than requiring participants to pick up WIC benefits in person. These waivers are expiring September 30, 2020. The National WIC Association is leading efforts to extend WIC waivers beyond September 30, 2020. Learn more about the National WIC Association’s campaign.

     

    Here are some of the messages you can tweet : see the link above for more info on who you can “@” in your tweets and for suggestions on sending your message with a photo:

     

    Keep pregnant women and new parents safe. #WICWaiversWork

    States need the flexibility to keep moms and babies safe. #WICWaiversWork

    Protecting WIC families is a no-cost provision. #WICWaiversWork

    Dear USDA: Protect WIC moms and babies from COVID-19. #WICWaiversWork

    Do right by moms and babies. Extend remote WIC services. #WICWaiversWork

    Keep moms and babies from going into clinics during COVID-19. #WICWaiversWork

    Waivers ensure healthy pregnancies and child development. Extend WIC waivers. #WICWaiversWork

    Protect families from COVID-19. Extend WIC Waivers #WICWaiversWork

    Dear USDA: Ensure the continuation of safe WIC service delivery. #WICWaiversWork

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Food Justice News August 6, 2020:

    Reports and updates today on food justice and food security issues from our friends at California Food Policy Advocates, California Alliance of Farmers’ Markets, CalCAN, Public Health Foundation WIC, LA County and others

    1. Pandemic EBT : Who Qualifies and How to Appeal
    2. National Farmers Market Week
    3. WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Up and Running!
    4. Support Healthy Soils and Farmworker Housing for Strong California Agriculture
    5. Volunteers Needed for Hunger Action LA!
    6. Link to LA County Food Programs

     

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    1. Pandemic EBT : Who Qualifies and How to Appeal

    Pandemic EBT or PEBT is the name of the food card program that distributed benefits to families with children in school meals programs, who were homebound due to the pandemic. California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) reports that “ As of late July, $1.3 billion in P-EBT food benefits have been distributed to more than 3.5 million children across California. “

    CFPA has prepared Question/Answer sheets in English and Spanish that cover P-EBT eligibility decisions, the appeals process, how to get help with P-EBT, and actions you can take to make sure P-EBT continues to help children throughout California. Click on links below:

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    2. National Farmers Market Week

    (Thanks to CA Alliance of Farmers Markets)

    Farmers Market Week began August 2 and ends Saturday. So let’s finish up with a strong weekend supporting local farmers! Many people have been wondering what’s happened to the farmers markets since the pandemic began. Here are some updates:

    • Most markets are open, but have added hand-washing stations, eliminated on-site dining and food sampling, and have spaced the canopies further apart to allow for social distancing.
    • Many markets that were co-located health care facilities (such as Kaiser Permanente) have closed indefinitely, but you should check because some have re-opened on other health facilities
    • As more people lose income and qualify for CalFresh, we’ve seen as much as a 25% increase in CalFresh sales at some of the markets affiliated with Hunger Action LA’s Market Match program. In addition, P-EBT or Pandemic EBT can be used at the farmers markets too, and also qualifies the user for up to $10 bonus coupons to spend via Market Match.

    Please share this video by the CA Alliance of Farmers Markets and the Spanish video for National Farmers Market Week on your social media platforms!

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    3. WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Up and Running!

    WIC (Women Infants and Children) program provides food benefits, health and other classes all year long to families with children age 5 and under (as well as pregnant women.) Every summer, WIC provides farmers market coupons so families can learn about markets and make healthier choices.

    WIC Families get $28 free this year to spend at farmers markets. Public Health Foundation Enterprises, one of the major WIC contractors in Southern California, will be distributing over half a million dollars of fruit and vegetable vouchers to 22,000 WIC families (while supplies last.)

    This year, many markets remain open with additional safety measures in place due to COVID-19. We encourage participants to wear a mask to the market and follow all posted social distancing instructions for a safer shopping experience.

    PHFE WIC participants can text FARMERS to 91997 to request their FMNP vouchers, if they have not received them. Vouchers will be mailed to the WIC participant within 1 week of the request.

    Hunger Action LA has organized a safe and convenient way for families to use their WIC FMNP vouchers. WIC participants can order a WIC Farm Box for pickup at one of several Los Angeles farmers' markets!

    www.phfewic.org

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    4. Support Healthy Soils and Farmworker Housing for Strong California Agriculture

    (Based on info from CalCAN, the California Climate and Agriculture Network)

    Please take a few minutes today to email your state Senator and Assemblymember, and Governor Newsom, and ask them to make economic recovery investments in food and agriculture!

    Food security—and economic security---in California depend on a strong resilient agriculture sector. After all, we are the state that feeds the nation. Two important programs to help achieve this are Healthy Soils (which provides grants to farmers and ranchers to build better soils) and Housing for the Harvest (housing for farmworkers who have to isolate due to the pandemic.)

    Let your elected representatives know that you support these two programs, which are under consideration for funding in legislative talks now.

    Sample Message for email or phone call:

    “I’m urging  (Governor Newsom or your Senator) to prioritize economic recovery funding for the Healthy Soils Program and the Housing for the Harvest program. The Healthy Soils Program turns farm-based climate solutions into rural jobs and farm viability. We must expand the Housing for Harvest program to include all agricultural counties, which provides critical housing for our farmworkers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic.”

    You can reach Governor Newsom's page here for contact info by phone or email directly from the website. You can also find your senator at this link and follow the links at their site for contact info.

    Background: Healthy Soils Program (CA Dept. of Food & Agriculture): In June, more than 300 growers received Healthy Soils grants but almost 600 farmers applied. Many farmers are using Healthy Soils grants to try new practices like compost, cover crops, and hedgerow plantings that not only build carbon sinks but also reduce chemical use and protect air and water quality, all while investing in local communities.

    Farmworker Housing: Housing for the Harvest is a new program that offers temporary hotel housing to agricultural workers who need to isolate due to COVID-19. We support expanding Housing for the Harvest to include all agricultural counties.

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    5. Volunteers Needed for Hunger Action LA!

    Contact us at info@hungeractionla.org if you have some time to volunteer. We need:

    *Delivery drivers to take food or meal bags to disabled, blind or senior households under pandemic lockdown. We collect food at 2:30 pm on Wednesday and deliveries go to South LA, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, and Harbor Gateway cities. You can volunteer for 2 to 5 deliveries (or more.) Contact info@hungeractionla.org

    *Volunteers to help set up and take down farmers markets, and prepare boxes for WIC customers (mentioned in the earlier item on the update.) Also contact info@hungeractionla.org

    Join the over 75 who have volunteered with us so far since the pandemic and thank you very much!

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    6. Link to LA County Food Programs

    During the coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen a bewildering array of changes, most of them temporary but with no definite end date, in food programs, as well as helpful new services pop up from public and private sources, especially for vulnerable communities who really shouldn’t go out to get groceries at this time. LA County has set up a web page with all the vital links including:

    • Direct links to apply for CalFresh or for WIC
    • A link to search for free food resources in your area
    • Senior Critical Delivery service and the county’s Senior meal delivery program, as well as the city of LA’s recently expanded senior meal program
    • Resources for those who want to volunteer and for those who are collecting or redistributing food

    https://covid19.lacounty.gov/get-support/

    Information on public benefits, updates on Covid impacts, and food distribution events around the county can be found here:

    http://dpss.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpss/main/home/news

    LA County is continuing its own version of the Great Plates program, helping homebound seniors between certain income levels to get 3 meals a day delivered to their homes:

     https://wdacs.lacounty.gov/greatplates/

     

     

     

     

     


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