Tag Archives: childhood malnutrition

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But first …

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Congressman McGovern leads Democrats calling on GOP House Budget Committee Chair to protect anti-hunger programs

Congressman Jim McGovern, the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Nutrition Subcommittee, led last week a group of 18 House Democrats on the Agriculture Committee calling on House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) and Ranking Member John Yarmuth (D-KY) to protect funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the top anti-hunger program in the country, and to reject attempts to change the structure of SNAP or place additional burdens on those looking to access SNAP benefits.

SNAP currently serves about 43 million Americans in both urban and rural areas, and its entitlement structure allows the program to expand during times of economic hardship and contract as conditions improve. SNAP provides the most vulnerable Americans with a modest nutrition assistance benefit — on average, just $1.40 per person, per meal — to supplement their food budgets. And among those households that can work, the vast majority do in the year before or after receiving benefits.”

In the letter, McGovern and House Democrats write that “SNAP is our nation’s best chance to alleviate hunger across our country. Each year, SNAP provides millions of children, seniors, veterans, and other vulnerable adults with food assistance,” the lawmakers write in the letter. “It is an efficient and effective program that helps families lift themselves out of poverty, and cuts extreme poverty almost in half.

“SNAP improves health, educational, and economic outcomes, and increases the incomes of working families. Recent innovations in the program have encouraged healthier eating and have increased SNAP participants’ consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. An increase in SNAP benefits would likely only improve these outcomes, with recent research confirming that just a $30 increase in monthly SNAP benefits for households could lead to healthier eating and lower rates of food insecurity.”

McGovern and House Democrats write that “Far too many Americans continue to struggle with food insecurity in the United States, and we must preserve the dignity and health of the most vulnerable among us through the basic and reliable food assistance provided by SNAP. We strongly urge you to maintain the entitlement structure of SNAP and reject any attempts to further cut funding or place additional burdens on those looking to access these modest benefits.”

RECENT HEARINGS

During the 114th Congress, the House Agriculture Committee undertook a thorough review of SNAP, holding 18 hearings, hearing more than 30 hours of testimony from over 60 experts which resulted in 830 pages of official hearing record. Both conservative and liberal experts testified that:

· SNAP benefits should not be cut and the current benefits are inadequate;

· SNAP does not discourage program participants from working;

· Case management and job training programs can help to move people out of poverty and

· These efforts require a well-funded, multi-year commitment.

COST SAVINGS

In the letter the lawmakers highlight how the success of SNAP will create new cost savings:

· Between 2007 and 2012, SNAP caseloads and spending grew as a result of the most recent economic recession, but that was to be expected.

· As the economic recovery continues, SNAP participation has declined in recent years.

· As a result of this decline and other factors like low food inflation, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that SNAP will save over $92 billion over 10 years.

FOOD ASSISTANCE CUT OFF IN STATES

However, the lawmakers point out that the recent decrease in SNAP participation is due in part to the return of the three-month time limit in 20 states for non-disabled childless adults who are working less than 20 hours a week.

The lawmakers write that “this time limit has resulted in over a million people losing SNAP benefits in 2016 alone—not based on whether they still need assistance, but because of arbitrary time limits. Further, states are not required to provide job training slots, so some of these vulnerable people lose food assistance even if they are looking for work, but cannot find a job. That is a problem Congress should be trying to fix, not worsen.”

Joining Congressman McGovern were the following House Agriculture Committee Democrats: Representatives Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Tim Walz (MN-01), Rick Nolan (MN-08), David Scott (GA-13), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Alma Adams (NC-12), Jimmy Pannetta (CA-20), Darren Soto (FL-09), Anne McLane Kuster (NH-02), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Stacey Plaskett (VI), Al Lawson (FL-05), Jim Costa (CA-16), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)

Full Text of Letter to the House Budget Committee on Protecting SNAP:

Dear Chairman Black and Ranking Member Yarmuth:

As Members of the Committee on Agriculture, we write to provide additional views to the Committee’s Budget Views and Estimates letter that was considered and adopted by the Committee on March 1, 2017. We appreciate the opportunity to provide these additional views.

One of our Committee’s most significant areas of jurisdiction is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP is our nation’s best chance to alleviate hunger across our country. It provides our most vulnerable neighbors with a modest nutrition assistance benefit—on average, just $1.40 per person, per meal—to supplement their food budgets. The program currently serves about 43 million Americans in both urban and rural areas, and its entitlement structure allows the program to expand during times of economic hardship and contract as conditions improve. Among those households that can work, the vast majority do in the year before or after receiving benefits.

During the 114th Congress, the House Agriculture Committee undertook a thorough review of SNAP. We held 18 hearings and heard more than 30 hours of testimony from over 60 experts which resulted in 830 pages of official hearing record. We learned from experts—conservative and liberal—that SNAP benefits should not be cut, and that current benefits are inadequate. We also learned that SNAP does not discourage work, and that case management and job training programs can be successful in helping to move people out of poverty, but those efforts require a well-funded, multi-year commitment.

Each year, SNAP provides millions of children, seniors, veterans, and other vulnerable adults with food assistance. It is an efficient and effective program that helps families lift themselves out of poverty, and cuts extreme poverty almost in half. SNAP improves health, educational, and economic outcomes, and increases the incomes of working families. Recent innovations in the program have encouraged healthier eating and have increased SNAP participants’ consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. An increase in SNAP benefits would likely only improve these outcomes, with recent research confirming that just a $30 increase in monthly SNAP benefits for households could lead to healthier eating and lower rates of food insecurity.

Between 2007 and 2012, SNAP caseloads and spending grew as a result of the most recent economic recession, but that was to be expected. Indeed, the program worked as it was intended and expanded to respond quickly and effectively to an economic downturn.

As our economy continues to recover, SNAP participation has declined during the past several years.

Because of this decline in SNAP participation and other factors like low food inflation, recent projections from the Congressional Budget Office estimate that SNAP will save over $92 billion over 10 years as compared to baseline projections used to write the 2014 Farm Bill. We caution the Committee, however, that some of the caseload decline is attributable to the return of the three-month time limit in 20 states for non-disabled childless adults who are working less than 20 hours a week. Indeed, this time limit has resulted in over a million people losing SNAP benefits in 2016 alone—not based on whether they still need assistance, but because of arbitrary time limits. Further, states are not required to provide job training slots, so some of these vulnerable people lose food assistance even if they are looking for work, but cannot find a job. That is a problem Congress should be trying to fix, not worsen.

Far too many Americans continue to struggle with food insecurity in the United States, and we must preserve the dignity and health of the most vulnerable among us through the basic and reliable food assistance provided by SNAP.

We strongly urge you to maintain the entitlement structure of SNAP and reject any attempts to further cut funding or place additional burdens on those looking to access these modest benefits.

Thank you for considering our additional views. We look forward to working with you and with Members of the Committee on the Budget on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

McGovern, Kennedy, Neal to join Western Mass. hunger march

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pic:R.T.

Hunger March to Support Families in Need

McGovern to Kick Off 7th Annual Monte’s March in Springfield!

Last Year’s March Raised a Record-Breaking $150,000 for Local Hunger Relief!

Next Monday, November 21, Congressman Jim McGovern will kick off the 7th annual “Monte’s March,” a 43-mile two-day walk as part of his anti-hunger push in Western Massachusetts.

Congressmen Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) and Richard Neal (MA-01) will be among those joining the event.

The march is aimed at helping to increase awareness about hunger in local communities and help Massachusetts families in need this thanksgiving.

“As we prepare for Thanksgiving, there are many Massachusetts families who are struggling just to put food on the table,” Congressman McGovern said. “To bring our communities together and raise awareness to help families in need, we’ll be kicking off the seventh annual Monte’s March, the longest-yet at 43 miles across Western Massachusetts. Hunger is something that touches families across the Commonwealth, but together, we can help to ensure that every family has access to the healthy meals they need this holiday season.”

Joining Congressman McGovern for the full 43 miles will be the founder of Monte’s March, WRSI The River radio host Monte Belmonte, as well as Andrew Morehouse, the Executive Director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Also joining part of the march will be Congressmen Richard Neal and Joe Kennedy III; State Rep. Aaron Vega; State Rep-Elect Solomon Goldstein-Rose; students from Holyoke Community College, Greenfield Community College and The Greenfield Center School; and local mayors, and other community leaders.

This year’s hunger walk will be the longest yet at 43 miles, starting on Monday with stops in Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and Northampton. The walk will finish on Tuesday with stops in Hadley, Amherst, Sunderland, and Greenfield.

OVERVIEW:

WHAT: Monte’s March, a 43-mile anti-hunger march across Western Massachusetts

WHEN: Monday 11/21 at 7:00AM

WHERE: March Starts at Friends of The Homeless. 755 Worthington St., Springfield

The march continues Monday with stops in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Northampton

On Tuesday 11/22 with stops in Hadley, Amherst, Sunderland, and ending in Greenfield

FULL SCHEDULE:

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21

o 7:00 am – Depart from Friends of The Homeless. 755 Worthington St. Springfield
o 8:30 am – Arrive at Chicopee City Limits
o 9:00 am – Arrive in Chicopee Falls
o 10:00 am – Arrive in Downtown Holyoke
o 11:00 am – 2:00 pm – Finish first day, walking down Northampton Street to Northampton
o 6:30 pm – Fundraising event at The Northampton Brewery, 11 Brewster Ct, Northampton
o Note: Throughout the day, the march will be joined by Holyoke Community College students

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22

o 6:00 am – Depart Northampton Office, 94 Pleasant Street.
o 7:00 am – Arrival at Route 9 in Hadley near Mi Tierra
o 8:00 am – Arrival at Whole Foods in Hadley
o 9:15 am – Arrival in Downtown Amherst
o 10:30 am – Arrival at Amherst Survival Center
o 12:00 pm – Arrival in Downtown Sunderland
o 1:15 pm – Arrival at Chandler’s Restaurant at Yankee Candle for Lunch
o 2:30 pm Arrival at Route 5 & 10 north joined by students from Greenfield Community College and The Greenfield Center School
o 5:00 pm: Arrival in Greenfield
o 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm: Completion of march at Seymour The Pub, 5 Bank Row, Greenfield.

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Congressman Jim McGovern on Trump and SNAP

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Back at Rose’s shack: Behold the terrific tuber! … Jim has been fighting for the hungry/food insecure his entire political life! pic:R.T.

Full Text of Congressman Jim McGovern’s Opening Statement on the House floor:

“After 18 hearings, what have we learned?

“We’ve learned that the SNAP program is a powerful tool for improving nutrition, insulating families against hardship, and lifting people out of poverty. It is effective, and it is efficiently run.

“The very modest benefit – which averages about $1.40 per person, per meal – helped to keep over 10 million people out of poverty in 2012, including almost 5 million children.

“So when I reflect on lessons learned from our hearings on SNAP during the 114th Congress, I think about the overwhelmingly supportive testimony we have heard from witnesses about the structure of the SNAP program and its ability to reduce food insecurity among our most vulnerable constituents.

“We’ve learned that charities do great work, but they can’t do it alone.

“We’ve learned that it’s a bad idea to radically change the SNAP program. It is working as intended. Not once have we heard from our witnesses that block granting SNAP will reduce hunger or strengthen this program. In fact, we’ve heard the opposite.

“And if we want to talk about improving access to food, we should be discussing ways to increase SNAP benefits. If anything, the average benefit of $1.40 per person, per meal is too low.

“The Recovery Act temporarily increased SNAP benefits and we saw an increase in food expenditures by low-income households, a reduction in food insecurity, and improvements in diet quality, especially among children.

“We ought to find ways to increase access to food by piloting the use of SNAP benefits online, strengthening employment and training programs, expanding SNAP education, incentivizing the purchase of more nutritious foods, we ought to address the issue of the “cliff,” among many other things.

“All of that would require an increased investment. But I think the return on investment would be enormous.

“I have no idea what a Trump Administration coupled with a Republican Congress means for the future of SNAP and other safety net programs.

“Quite frankly, I am worried. I spend a lot of time on this stuff. I spend a lot of time with people on SNAP. They don’t fit a stereotype. Many are unemployed – and many work. The majority who benefit from SNAP are kids and senior citizens.

“These are good people; they are our neighbors. And yet, too often, they are ridiculed, and their plight is belittled in the halls of this Congress. That is wrong.

“So, after 18 hearings, we have learned, from both majority and minority witnesses, that SNAP is not only a good program, but a very good program. It works.

“And, if next year, the Republican leadership wants to block grant or cut the program or put more hurdles in place to deny people a benefit to put food on their table – be prepared for one hell of a fight. Because this is a fight worth having.

“No one – and I mean no one – should go hungry in the United States of America.”

Too many American schools are still flunking lunch!

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This summer the City of Worcester ran a kick-ass summer lunch/snack program for low-income/hungry kids at our parks – the USDA’s national Summer Food Service Program! This blue bus (pictured above) could be seen rolling down our city streets, even making stops at our branch libraries! … School’s begun! Hola, Ms. Lunch Lady! Unlike lots of school districts, the Worcester Public Schools work to incorporate fresh veggies and fruits into students’ meals – at every grade level! AND EVERY STUDENT CAN GET A FREE LUNCH! Go, WPS, go!!! – Rosalie T.

By Heather Moore

I don’t care what kids say — the school lunch lady is not trying to kill them. The federal government is. Well, I have my suspicions, at least. Many of the meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program are high in fat and cholesterol and contain considerably more sodium than fiber. They’re a heart attack in the making. I wonder if that’s why the American Heart Association has warned us that atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries — begins in childhood and progresses into adulthood, at which point it can lead to coronary heart disease.

Most American schools serve the same artery-clogging meals that were served when I was a student, and frozen meals still had to be baked in the oven. How can we expect students to take a health teacher’s “healthy eating tips” seriously when their school cafeteria is serving unhealthy foods?

Salisbury steak, pepperoni pizza and chicken nuggets need to go the way of film projectors and hand-crank pencil sharpeners. And fast-food corporations should also be expelled from schools — or at least suspended until they serve more plant-based meals.

As Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says, “Fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are nutritional powerhouses that study after study has shown to be quite literally lifesaving .… [D]iets high in animal protein are associated with a fourfold increase in the chance of dying from cancer or diabetes — making heavy meat and dairy consumption just as dangerous as smoking.”

Responsible parents teach their children not to smoke because cigarettes cause cancer and other health problems. For the same reason, they should make sure their kids don’t get hooked on hamburgers and other unhealthy foods. Let’s put more emphasis on teaching children to eat vegan meals — at school and at home. Kids will gladly eat plant-based meals, such as pasta, veggie burgers and black bean chili, if they’re delicious as well as nutritious.

Knowing this, the Coalition for Healthy School Food created the Cool School Food program to develop, test and implement plant-based meals in school cafeterias. The program — which helped two public schools in New York implement the first entirely plant-based school menus in the U.S. — aims to make it fun and exciting for young people to try new foods and learn about their health benefits.

Food Is Elementary, another school program that was recently featured in VegNews magazine, is also working to introduce children to plant-based foods, which the kids prepare and eat as part of a curriculum established by the founder of the Food Studies Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that helps school cafeterias incorporate low-fat, high-fiber foods into their menus.

We need more programs like these. Students are fed up with the unappetizing, inhumane and potentially disease-promoting fare that passes as lunch in many school cafeterias. Last year, students at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Chicago boycotted school lunch in an attempt to persuade officials to serve healthier meals, including more fresh fruit and vegetables.

That’s hardly an unreasonable request. The school cafeteria is supposed to be a source of nourishment, not disease. This year’s National School Lunch Week, which will be observed in October, aims to remind “parents, students and school officials that a healthy lunch helps students power through the day!”

But how can we expect kids to make it through the day — and learn compassion and empathy — if they’re eating unhealthy animal-based foods? We need to teach children that “v” is for vegan and serve them healthy, tasty, cruelty-free plant-based foods.

On World Food Day Congressman McGovern Renews Call to End Hunger In U.S. and Around the World

Congressman Jim McGovern, Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, and Democratic Co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released yesterday the following statement in recognition of World Food Day. Established to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945, World Food Day also serves as a time to bring attention to global development and humanitarian programs that fight hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty:

“With the advances of today’s global agriculture, there is no excuse for the world hunger we currently see. Whether in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, no child or family should have to wonder where their next meal will come from.

“Unfortunately, tens of millions of individuals in America and hundreds of millions across the globe face that challenge every day.

“In America alone, 48.1 million individuals suffer from food insecurity, including 15.3 million children. Globally, 805 million people feel the effects of hunger day in and day out. This is unacceptable.

“We, as a nation and as a global population, need to acknowledge that the right to adequate food is a basic human right. 

“Solving hunger must be a shared goal. In the U.S., we need to strengthen our investment in SNAP and other anti-hunger programs, and continue to work with a broad coalition of anti-hunger organizations.

“Globally, we need to work with our international partners, the business community, NGOs and universities to effectively combat, and eventually end, hunger across the world. 

“Together we are making progress in fighting hunger as the world is beginning to meet anti-hunger goals. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals include the goal of ending hunger by 2030. Solving hunger is possible in our lifetime and I am proud to support this ambitious goal.

“I will continue to fight against hunger to ensure that everyone in the U.S. and around the world has access to the basic human right of adequate food and food security. On this World Food Day, I urge my fellow members of Congress to join me in this fight to end hunger now.”

– Jim McGovern

Worcester news you can use!

Summer Food Service Program for kids!

The Baker Administration, in collaboration with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), this week launched the 2015 Summer Food Service Program, a federally-funded initiative that provides free meals to children age 18 and younger when school is not in session.

More than 400,000 children across Massachusetts qualify for free or low-cost school meals during the school year. During the summer months, children and families lose access to these nutritious meals and frequently find it difficult to pay for the additional meals. The Summer Food Service Program fills this meal gap by providing nutritious meals in eligible areas throughout the state.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered in Massachusetts by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The program provides children with access to nutritious meals at schools, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, and other community sites, often in conjunction with enrichment and recreational activities. Without access to meals, children are at greater risk of unhealthy eating habits, fatigue, weight gain and summer learning loss.

Last summer, the summer meals program fed an average of nearly 60,000 young people per day across the state, a figure that continued the growth the program has experienced since more targeted outreach began in 1992.

Most Summer Food Service Program sites open by July 6 and run until mid-August. Sponsors operate the sites with close technical support from ESE and outreach assistance from the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) at Project Bread.

For information on site locations, including the start and end times of service, go to:

www.meals4kids.org/find-summer-meal-site …

or call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or text 617-863-MEAL (6325).

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Boston – State House

Jobs Not Jails hearings:

1) Collateral Sanctions at the RMV 

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Thursday, July 23

In Hearing Room A2
At the State House in Boston

This is a shorter public hearing (two hours only) in a smaller space than the big June 9 mandatory minimums hearing.  Therefore, we are asking people to testify only if you have been personally affected by the RMV license suspension related to a drug offense.

The BIG hearing on the entire Justice Reinvestment Act is also coming up…

2) Justice Reinvestment Act 

Wednesday, September 23

At the State House in Boston
Time and room to be announced

Mark your calendar and save the date for 9/23, when we will take a big step toward ending mass incarceration and funding job creation!

*Details about the RMV Collateral Sanctions bill:

This bill, H.3039  S.1812 is the stand-alone version filed by EPOCA and sponsored by the champions of our CORI Reform Bill, State Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Liz Malia. This bill is currently in the Transportation Committee.

When people re-build their lives after a drug conviction, they face obstacles such as probation fees, court costs and the stigma of having a CORI. In addition, there is a special penalty just for them.

Under current law, a person convicted of any drug offense loses her or his driving privileges for up to 5 years, and must pay at least $500 to reinstate the license.  This applies to any drug offense, even if it has nothing to do with an automobile or driving. This law also generates a “back-door CORI” that can never be sealed, which harms a person’s chances of finding employment and housing, for decades after the offense was committed.

It’s time to change this law.  Please come to the hearing and show your support. Approximately 7,000 people per year lose their driving privileges due to this law, mostly for offenses that do not involve vehicles in any way.

For more info please contact: Delia Vega of EPOCA:
(508) 713-8420
Delia.EPOCA@yahoo.com

**Please note, the hearing on July 23 is on a separately filed version of the RMV Collateral Sanctions bill, not Jobs NOT Jails’ omnibus legislation, The Justice Reinvestment Act. That bill is sponsored by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Mary Keefe and is currently in the Judiciary Committee.  The hearing on the full Justice Reinvestment Act is on September 23.