Tag Archives: SNAP

Worcester news you can use!








For nearly 100 years, Worcester was the center of the commercial Valentine industry in the United States.

Join the WORCESTER HISTORICAL MUSEUM for a Valentine making workshop at 30 Elm St. on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 and make your own Worcester-inspired card in the tradition of Esther Howland, Jotham Taft or George C. Whitney.

This program is for Valentine lovers of all ages and is FREE with museum admission.

We will provide everything but the stamp!

This program runs from 11 AM – 3 PM.

And …
Winners of the 39th Annual “Be Our Valentine” Contest Award Ceremony

At the museum …

Friday, February 10 at 4 PM

Students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 celebrated Worcester’s historic role by creating 21st century Valentine greetings. The winners of our 2017 Valentine making competition will be awarded in this yearly celebration of creativity, history and fun!

All of the entries, representing 18 of Worcester’s schools, will be on exhibit at the Worcester Historical Museum through February 28!

photos: WHM

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


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.


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



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


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.


Congressman Jim McGovern on Trump and SNAP

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.”

Jim parked in A.I! … Congressman McGovern Calls for Action to Solve Senior Hunger


5 Million American Seniors Struggle with Hunger

Many Forced to Choose Between Paying for Prescriptions and Having Enough to Eat

Photo by Chef Joey
Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat and leading voice in the fight against hunger, spoke on the House Floor today to recognize Older Americans Month and to help raise awareness about senior hunger and the ways we can better address it.
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech, as prepared for delivery:

“As we celebrate the contributions of our seniors during Older Americans Month this month, I rise to draw attention to an issue that often goes overlooked in our communities – the terrible problem of hunger among aging adults. 
“Food insecurity among seniors has doubled since 2001 and is expected to increase significantly as the Baby Boomer generation ages. 
“Today, food insecurity impacts five million seniors across the country, forcing them to make impossible decisions between food, medical care, home heating, and other necessities.
“We know that hunger is a health issue, and that is especially true among seniors over the age of 60.

Photo by Chef Joey
“Research from Feeding America suggests that compared to their food secure neighbors, seniors suffering from hunger are 60 percent more likely to experience depression, 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack, 52 percent more likely to develop asthma, and 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.
“Baby Boomers spend twice as much on health care as young adults do, and ensuring seniors have access to nutritious food will help to improve the health of our seniors and ultimately reduce medical costs.     
“We also know that seniors have unique nutritional needs, and I’m pleased to see scientists collaborating to create nutritional guidance for seniors. 
“Researchers at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, with support from the AARP Foundation, recently unveiled an updated MyPlate for Older Adults graphic to help seniors visualize what foods cover the nutritional needs that make up a healthy plate for adults their age.  The new icon also encourages them to follow healthy eating patterns. 
“I was pleased to join scientists from Tufts, as well as representatives of AARP, last week at a briefing on Capitol Hill to unveil the new MyPlate icon and educate Congressional staff on the importance of senior nutrition.
“But if we want to ensure seniors have access to nutritious foods, we must also ensure they have the ability to afford fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options.
“One critical step we can take toward the goal of ending senior hunger is closing what’s referred to as the ‘senior SNAP gap.’ 
“While millions of our parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends are facing hunger, only a fraction of low-income seniors eligible for food assistance through SNAP are accessing the benefits, presumably because of the stigma associated with assistance or because seniors are unaware they qualify for benefits.
“Many seniors also suffer from limited mobility, or may have issues completing benefit applications which can be complex and time consuming.
“In fact, seniors are more likely than any other age group to be eligible for SNAP but not enrolled to receive benefits.

Photo: R.T.
“That’s why I’m pleased to see so many advocacy organizations using Older Americans Month to call attention to the issue of senior hunger.
“Through their #SolveSeniorHunger campaign, Feeding America and other anti-hunger and aging organizations across the country are reaching out to seniors and their loved ones to raise awareness and ensure that those seniors who are eligible to receive SNAP benefits are connected to the appropriate resources.
“We should all do our part to help solve senior hunger by talking to our family members and friends about senior hunger and partnering with leaders in our communities working to improve access to nutritious food for senior populations.
“During my years in Congress, I have had the opportunity to visit food banks and other organizations in my district working to end hunger among seniors.   
“Last year, I had the privilege of spending a day with a Meals on Wheels program based in Northampton, Massachusetts – part of my Congressional district.  I helped to prepare and deliver meals, and had the opportunity to speak with the seniors who are served through this incredible program. 
“Members of Congress have an important role in ensuring that our nation’s seniors don’t go hungry, and I encourage all of my colleagues to spend time with similar programs in their districts. 
“Congress must adequately fund programs like Meals on Wheels that provide nutritious food to seniors, and reject harmful cuts to SNAP that will disproportionately harm the most vulnerable among us – children, seniors and the disabled. 
“Working together, we have the power to end hunger now, especially among our senior population.” 

Congressman McGovern Praises Massachusetts Efforts to Tackle Food Waste, Calls for More Action at Every Level  

Soup’s on! pic:R.T.

America Spends $218 Billion Every Year on Food That Is Never Eaten
Reducing Food Waste Is Key to Helping 50 million Americans Struggling with Hunger

Today Congressman Jim McGovern spoke on the House Floor to raise awareness about food waste in the U.S. and to praise efforts in Massachusetts and across the country to reduce food waste and help the 50 million Americans – including 16 million children – who struggle with hunger every year.  
“American consumers, businesses, and farms spend an estimated $218 billion per year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. Up to 40 percent of all food grown is never eaten,” Congressman McGovern said. “Forty to fifty million tons of food is sent to landfills each year, plus another 10 million tons is left unharvested on farms. This food waste translates into approximately 387 billion calories of food that went unconsumed.
“With 50 million Americans – including 16 million children –struggling with hunger every year, these are startling figures,” McGovern added. “We know food waste occurs throughout the supply chain – from harvesting to manufacturing to retail operations and consumer habits.  We must do more to reduce food waste at every stage, recover food that would have otherwise been wasted, and recycle unavoidable waste as animal feed, compost, or energy.
“Thankfully, there’s already a lot of great work being done to raise awareness about the problem of food waste,” McGovern concluded. “I’m pleased to see so many partners at every level of the food supply chain taking action to reduce food waste, but still, more needs to be done. Let’s solve the problem of food waste and let’s end hunger now.” 
In today’s speech today, Congressman McGovern recognized Massachusetts leaders and organizations like the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for helping to reduce food waste as part of the larger push to tackle hunger. McGovern also thanked Becker College, College of the Holy Cross, Smith College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their work with the Campus Kitchen Project and the Food Recovery Network to provide hunger relief in their local communities through campus food recovery initiatives.
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:

“Thousands of people will gather in Washington, D.C. this week for “Feeding the 5000” – an event designed to bring awareness to the issue of food waste. 
“Participants will be served a communal meal made entirely out of food that would otherwise have been discarded – in other words, wasted. 
“Since 2009, Feedback, a global environmental organization working to end food waste, has hosted dozens of “Feeding the 5000” events in cities across the globe. 
“I’m pleased to see so many local partners – including government agencies, charitable organizations, NGOs, industry, and chefs – joining together to call attention to food waste. 
“Because the truth of the matter is, we’ll need all of these partners working together to solve the issue of food waste.
“Last year, the USDA announced their first-ever food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030. USDA is working with charitable organizations, faith-based groups, and the private sector and I believe this goal is 100 percent achievable.
“American consumers, businesses, and farms spend an estimated $218 billion per year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. 
“Up to 40 percent of all food grown is never eaten.  Forty to fifty million tons of food is sent to landfills each year, plus another 10 million tons is left unharvested on farms. 
“This food waste translates into approximately 387 billion calories of food that went unconsumed.
“With 50 million Americans – including 16 million children –struggling with hunger every year, these are startling figures. 
“We know food waste occurs throughout the supply chain – from harvesting to manufacturing to retail operations and consumer habits.  We must do more to reduce food waste at every stage, recover food that would have otherwise been wasted, and recycle unavoidable waste as animal feed, compost, or energy.
“Thankfully, there’s already a lot of great work being done to raise awareness about the problem of food waste. 
“Just last week I attended a screening of the documentary film, Just Eat It at Amherst Cinema, organized by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Just Eat It follows a couple, Jen and Grant, as they stop going to the grocery store and live solely off of foods that would have been thrown away. Jen and Grant were able to find an abundance of perfectly safe and healthy food available for consumption that would have been thrown away.
“It’s exciting to see new partnerships forming to study food waste and find ways to use this perfectly good food to reduce hunger in our communities. 
“One such private-public collaboration, ReFED, has brought together over 30 business, government, and NGO leaders committed to wide-scale solutions to U.S. food waste. 
“In March, 2016, ReFED released a Roadmap that charts the course for a 20 percent reduction of food waste within a decade. 
“The Roadmap calls for farmers to reduce unharvested food and create secondary markets for imperfect produce.  It calls on manufacturers to reduce inefficiencies, make packaging adjustments, and standardize date labeling.  It calls on food service companies to further implement waste tracking and incorporate imperfect produce and smaller plates into restaurants.  And it urges the federal government to strengthen tax incentives for food donation and consider standardized date labeling legislation.   
“The good news is that many in the industry are already taking steps to dramatically cut down on wasted food by implementing robust donation programs. 
“For example, Starbucks recently announced it will soon scale up its successful food donation pilot program nationwide. In partnership with the Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, Starbucks will donate unsold food from more than 7,000 company-operated stores –salads, sandwiches, and other refrigerated items – to the Feeding America food bank network. By 2021, that amounts to almost 50 million meals.
“Our college campuses are also stepping up. Both the Campus Kitchen Project and the Food Recovery Network work with college dining facilities and students to provide hunger relief in their local communities. In my congressional district, Becker College, College of the Holy Cross, Smith College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute all have campus food recovery initiatives.
“Over the past 35 years, Feeding America has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to ensuring food that would have otherwise been wasted makes its way to food banks across the country and into the homes of families in need. 
“There are dozens of other industry leaders also taking steps to reduce food waste by implementing manufacturing upgrades, maximizing harvests, and utilizing recycling initiatives.  
“I appreciate the efforts of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance in bringing together industry partners to reduce food waste, shrink the environmental footprint, and alleviate hunger in our communities. 
“Reducing food waste is one step we can take toward our goal of ending hunger in the United States and throughout the world. 
“I’m pleased to see so many partners at every level of the food supply chain taking action to reduce food waste, but still, more needs to be done. Let’s solve the problem of food waste and let’s end hunger now.”

Baby love

By Rosalie Tirella

The newspaper story was four paragraphs long, but I could see it all clearly, this Worcester story, more footnote than story. You’d have called it a “metro note” in the old days when we all got our news from physical newspapers and the physical length of the story, one skinny column, would be maybe four inches long and tucked in the side of the page, like an afterthought … or like something that was either too insignificant to write about or TOO SIGNIFICANT to write about because THIS WAS LIFE and you only had some city beat news nerd on the job, when who you needed was Tolstoy!

So tiny this metro note! It read something like this: A 5 week old baby dead. She was sleeping with her parents on an air mattress, when they discovered she (we’ll call her Mary) had died. The parents in their early 20s, had another baby, just two years old, sleeping with them on their air mattress, too. The other baby was alive.

When the police came to the Worcester apartment on that cold winter night they noted the young parents – children themselves some might say! – were distraught. The dead baby – just 5 weeks old! – had dried blood in her nostrils. They said she had been dead for several hours. The parents said the family was on that one air mattress because they were moving! An investigation is being conducted. Stained Baby Wipes, a sheet, a blanket were taken by the authorities to be tested and studied.



Oh, what might have happened on that cold Worcester winter night, in a flat over by Green Hill Park! What fears – what kind of fate – did a poor young family face in wintertime? There are so many of these families in Worcester, all quietly leading lives of hardship.

A family like so many in Worcester, but one who walking the tight rope between tragedy and grinding poverty fell into tragedy, death. It’s no wonder we don’t read more stories like this one! The city is filled with young poor parents and their tiny innocent babies. Why just a few weeks ago, on Ward Street, my street a young man beat his young girlfriend’s three year old babe so badly that he almost died, his intestines were smashed up so badly! I, personally fell in love with a little girl and her two year old brother and wrote about them here. They’ve left Ward Street, I think. I’ll always remember: the little boy, still wearing diapers maybe, being led by his tiny sister, in the dark, across Ward Street, the cars zooming up and down both ways. The little girl holding her brother’s hand. The little boy still smiling softly because I had given him a cute green plush toy to give to his Chihuahua mix, Beauty.


The Green Hill Park family … very poor, on the cusp of homelessness? Possibly moving out of a place they haven’t paid rent on, running to the next shitty apartment … on the run like seemingly half the families of kids in the Worcester Public Schools. The trend has been studied. I forget what our experts called it. All I know is they said very few inner city WPS kids graduate from the Worcester elementary school they started kindergarten in. The families are always moving, the kids fall behind in school work, lose friendships …

So the Green Hill Park family with a few pieces of furniture and four mouths to feed, four bodies to clothe, four minds to nourish … All that preciousness sleeping on a Wal-Mart air mattress – hard, inflated, thrown on the floor, where its especially cold and drafty on a Worcester winter night.

The parents have little but they love their babies! They, like lots of poor folks, are operating on instinct. There is much stress, too. Living so close to the bone, can make for incredible intimacy. The basics are covered primitively but often the gestures, the emotions, are TRUE! When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, and we lived in a cold, drafty tenement on Lafayette Street, my Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, my mom and I ALL SLEPT TOGETHER in my Bapy’s big black squeaky metal bed, under a big goose down quilt from Poland. It was heavy and mountainous! You sweated underneath that behemoth of bedding! As a child I loved to pounce on it during the day! Jump all over it and pretend I was in the Swiss Alps playing hide and seek with reindeers in the white, glistening mountains.

My mom stuck me between her and Bapy so I wouldn’t fall off the bed! I was just a baby then, and I too was cold in my crib! I still recall the smell of my mother’s rounded back! She smelled like sweat and cabbage soup! I loved being snuggly and warm between my chubby grandmother and round-backed mother. Like a bear cub all safe and dreamy in the cozy bear den!

So the five week old was cranky at midnight, on the outskirts of Green Hill Park in Worcester, where the winter wind bends the tree branches and they creak as the wind makes them go left, then right, in ways that are unnatural to them, you feel the stiffness in society’s soul:

How can we, as a city, as a country, allow so many of our children to go hungry, go underclothed and underfed? How can we live with ourselves as they cough in $1,000 a month shit holes, with parents who don’t know enough to ask the landlords for more and landlords who are slumlords in that it’s all about making the biggest dollar on the dime, five week old babies be damned.

And they are! To lives that start out so rough they never really recover! And here we are in Worcester and America STILL DEBATING FREE UNIVERSAL PRE-K and DAYCARE!



So the 5 week old on the outskirts of Green Hill Park was cranky in its bed, so the parents took it up and brought it to sleep with them: for warmth, for soothing, for love …

And then: Death. Death comes to a baby who’s hardly been born! A five week old human baby is so small and innocent! It is hard to believe they grow up to be … us!

Have you ever looked at a baby’s finger nails?! Like little moon crescents … like lamb’s dreams and daisy chains … and yet there they be: in a Lafayette Street cold water flat, in a Green Hill Park apartment on an air mattress on the floor in wintertime!

Years and years ago I lived in Hartford Connecticut and found myself a social worker-case manager. It was a job I’ll never forget: Hartford at the time was one of the country’s poorest cities, the families we cared for seemed out of … Appalachia. Fat from frying pans was thrown out into backyards where skittish stray dogs would run up and gobble it all up and run away. Children’s mothers nodded off to heroin, while their little child sat in the kitchen with old, toothless granny who couldn’t read or write but was caring for them because she had the apartment in the projects and she was, I was told, a good lady.

And there are so many good people in horrific life circumstances! Often the smallest ones are the princes and princesses we can never forget! Take this Hartford day, many years ago:

I and my fellow case worker were doing home visits, going into the projects to visit the parents and guardians of the little boys and girls who were in the program. This one little boy, about 4, had a beautiful mother: long, wavy jet black hair, curvy, but lithe figure, gorgeous white teeth, voluptuous lips … Naturally, there were about a million asshole guys buzzing around her door. Once we came to visit her – and she was in the middle of having sex with this gorgeous, muscular Adonis- the kind if rare guy who looks a thousand times better OUT of his clothes! I can say this because he was the one who answered the door bell – came to the door in just his briefs to tell us NOT NOW, GO AWAY, COME BACK SOME OTHER DAY.

And we did!

Now here we were, back again, to complete the home visit, my coworker in the kitchen with mom, the boyfriend out, me sitting in the living room with the little boy standing before me. There was nothing in the living room but two fold out foam chairs, just foam blocks really covered in cheap beige polyester. The walls were beige too and unadorned. But the little boy was so BEAUTIFUL, like a little emerald in a briar patch. He smiled at me and waved for me to follow him into the kitchen. I did. And watched as he went to the refrigerator open the door and took out a little box of juice and turning offered it to me.

I smiled and took his gift, most likely from our program or the neighborhood food pantry. Then I went back into the living room, took the saran wrap off the little straw that was attached to the juice box and stuck it into the little aluminum foil covered hole at the top corner of the little box and began slurping noisily, smiling at the little boy who took a seat on the foam block opposite me. Tears flowed out of my eyes as I slurped my grape juice because I had seen the inside of hos family’s refrigerator when he was reaching in to get the little juice box. There was nothing in it, except one other little juice box! That was it! On all four metal shelves! In the two big, clear plastic vegetable and fruit drawers! The yellow refrigerator 60 watt light bulb shone starkly, shone meanly on all that barrenness.

I remember saying, to the little boy, through my tears: YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD BOY! YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD BOY!

And he was such a good baby!

Just like the five week old baby who died such a premature death on the outskirts of Green Hill Park, on a cold winter night, here in Worcester.


In A.I. for today … Congressman McGovern and Congresswoman DeLauro on National Commission on Hunger Report

The National Commission on Hunger released today their final report, Freedom from Hunger: An Achievable Goal for The United States of America, Recommendations of the National Commission on Hunger to Congress and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. The Hunger Commission was created by the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2014 and Commission members were appointed equally by House and Senate leaders.
Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), two of the leading voices in Congress calling for strong investments in anti-hunger programs, released the following statements in response to the report.
Representative McGovern (D-MA) said, “Today’s National Hunger Commission report is a powerful reminder that we have much more work to do to end hunger for American families. With strict parameters and a limited budget, writing this report was no easy task and I’m grateful to the Commission members for the report and its recommendations. This report underscores how fundamentally important and effective our federal nutrition programs are to reducing hunger, most notably the Supplemental Food Assistance Program, or SNAP.
“SNAP is first and foremost a food program, not a jobs program. SNAP cannot be expected to solve the broader economic challenges or barriers faced by people ready and willing to work so they can provide for their families. We must continue to strengthen SNAP as America’s premier anti-hunger entitlement program.
“Additionally, I have long called for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Hunger to develop a holistic plan to end hunger in this country once and for all. So I am pleased that the report calls for the creation of a White House Leadership Council to End Hunger – a key step to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to do just that. Hunger is essentially a political problem. We have the food, resources, and ability to end hunger. What’s lacking is the political will. I hope this report will help spur more discussion, attention, and action to end hunger for families across the country.”
Representative DeLauro (D-CT) said, “The National Hunger Commission was given a difficult task in examining the state of hunger in America and I thank the Commission for its hard work. The report confirms, as we already knew, that SNAP and other anti-hunger programs are highly effective at reducing hunger across the country. These programs are critical in meeting the nutritional needs of our families and as the report highlights, we cannot afford to cut or block grant the programs.
“However, while the Commission solely focused on the 17.2 million Americans suffering the lowest level of food security, we should also bring attention to the other 30.9 million Americans suffering from marginal food security. By doing so, we can better understand all of the nation’s hunger problems and the associated human, economic and fiscal costs. We must go further in combatting hunger in America and find solutions for the full magnitude of the nation’s poverty and hunger issues.”

Congressman Jim McGovern on SNAP report

Jim McGovern Applauds White House Hunger Report Highlighting Importance of SNAP in Helping Hungry Families
In 2014, at least 4.7 million people, including 2.1 million children, were lifted out of poverty due to SNAP benefits. 

Congressman Jim McGovern, one of the leading voices in Congress calling for action to address hunger, applauded yesterday the release by the White House of a new report on hunger highlighting how SNAP improves food security and life outcomes for families, with long-term benefits for health, education, and economic well-being. At the same time, far too many families remain food insecure, and strengthening SNAP benefits would help to address this.
“Today’s White House report confirms that SNAP works. It is one of the most effective federal programs in reducing hunger and food insecurity and it has a lasting positive effect on vulnerable populations, especially children.
“Today’s report also confirms what we have heard repeatedly in the House Agriculture Committee this year: The majority of those on SNAP are children, elderly and the disabled. And as the economy continues to recover, more families are working, but there are still far too many who are earning so little that they qualify for SNAP. It’s deeply troubling that wages haven’t kept up with the cost of meeting basic needs.This report also shows that the current SNAP benefit is too low. It runs out before the end of the month and families are forced to cobble together enough to eat.
“Ensuring that children have enough healthy food to eat early in their life through SNAP is one of the best investments we can make in future health, well-being and economic self-sufficiency. I am grateful to the White House and USDA Secretary Vilsack for their leadership on hunger, both with this report and their work to strengthen critical programs like school meals that help families in need.
“As Congress finishes this year and looks to 2016, I urge all of my colleagues to read this report and think twice before cutting SNAP or turning it into a block grant program. These would be harmful policy changes that would significantly undermine the program. Instead we should be focused on strengthening SNAP. Hunger is a solvable problem and we must work together to strengthen critical anti-hunger programs like SNAP that so many American families rely on.”
Key Findings of White House Hunger Report:

The White House report draws on a growing body of high-quality research about food insecurity and SNAP, finding that:
1. SNAP plays an important role in reducing both poverty and food insecurity in the United States—especially among children.
In 2014,at least 4.7 million people, including 2.1 million children, were lifted out of poverty due to SNAP benefits. 
Overall, research indicates that rates of food insecurity are up to 30 percent lower among households that receive SNAP compared to what they otherwise would be—with impacts for children that are at least this large. 
A recent study shows that the temporary increase in SNAP benefits implemented under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resulted in 530,000 fewer households experiencing food insecurity.
2. SNAP’s positive impact on children begins even before birth and lasts well beyond their childhood years, including improving health, education, and economic outcomes.
Maternal receipt of Food Stamps during pregnancy reduces the incidence of low birth-weight by between 5 and 23 percent.
Among adults who grew up in disadvantaged households when the Food Stamp Program was first being introduced, access to Food Stamps before birth and in early childhood led to significant reductions in the likelihood of being obese (16 percentage points) and significant increases (18 percentage points) in the likelihood of completing high school. 

Early exposure to food stamps also led to reductions in metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions associated with heart disease and diabetes) and increased economic self-sufficiency among disadvantaged women.
3. While SNAP allows families to put more food on the table, current benefit levels are often not sufficient to sustain them through the end of the month, resulting in substantial consequences.
New research has linked diminished food budgets at the end of each month to high-cost consequences, including:
a drop-off in caloric intake, with estimates of this decline ranging from 10 to 25 percent over the course of the month;
an increase in the rate of hospital admissions due to low blood sugar among low-income adults (a 27 percent increase between the first and last week of the month);
an increase in the rate of disciplinary actions among school children in SNAP households (an 11 percent increase between the first and last week of the month);
diminished student performance on standardized tests, with performance improving only gradually again after the next month’s benefits are received.
4. The Administration has developed several initiatives to improve food security and nutrition, particularly of vulnerable children.
The most recent revision to the WIC food package, which provides supplemental nutrition to low-income women, infants, and children, added a cash value voucher (CVV) to allow participants to purchase fruits and vegetables on top of the basket of goods historically provided by the program, representing a substantial increase in the value of the package.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), offered nationwide starting in 2014, allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. CEP has improved access to healthy meals in eligible schools, while eliminating the administrative burden associated with collecting and processing household applications for subsidized school meals.

The Administration has also worked diligently to expand access for low-income children to nutritious food during the summer months when school meals are unavailable and the risk of food insecurity is heightened.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delivered 23 million more summer meals than in 2009.
Congressman McGovern has been a strong supporter of the Administration’s successful implementation of the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) pilots, which provide additional food assistance to low-income families with children during the summer months.. These pilots were found to reduce very low food security among children by 26 percent.  The President’s 2016 Budget proposed a significant expansion of this effort.


U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern today was named the Democratic Ranking Member on the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition.

The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives.

The Republican Chair of the Subcommittee is U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana.

Rep. McGovern has been a long-time champion in the fight against hunger. “I am honored by this appointment and ready to keep fighting for critical anti-hunger programs,” Rep. McGovern said.  “I look forwarding to working with Chairwoman Walorski and my other colleagues on the Subcommittee.  There is a lot to do – despite the economic recovery millions of American families are struggling to put food on the table.  We can end hunger once and for all if we muster the political will to do it.”

Rep. McGovern was also named a member on the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research.

From The Boston Globe: farmers markets and SNAP cards …

I’ve been meaning to post this BOSTON GLOBE editorial for weeks…   –    R.T.


Food stamps for fresh food: More produce, more benefits

THE SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal food stamp program, has often struggled with the “nutrition” part of its mandate. The problem is that fresh fruits and vegetables are often too expensive for low-income families to afford, especially if they have to rely on benefits for most of their groceries.

The latest farm bill, signed into law earlier this year, offers a simple, innovative solution. The legislation doubles the value of SNAP benefits when they are used to purchase produce bought at local grocery stores or farmers markets who agree to participate.

The program, called the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, provides $100 million over the next five years in grants to organizations that help make fruit and vegetables more affordable to SNAP recipients. The grant program is focused on encouraging people to buy more produce. …

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