Tag Archives: children

Calling all farmers, people who don’t want inner-city farmers markets gentrified, folks who want to bring fresh local foods to city schools/low-income families!

It’s the POLLINATE CONFERENCE January 13  at Worcester State University!

Time is running out …

Registration closes on January 7th!

Reserve your spot today.

Join more 300 other enthusiastic farm to cafeteria advocates from the preschool, K-12, and college sectors for a full day of workshops, networking, cooking demonstrations, and fun. We will have over 20 different workshops including:

Farm to School Policy and Advocacy

Farm to School Curriculum Connections

Waste Reduction, Composting Organics, and School Gardens
Funding Farm to School Programs
On Campus Farming
Farm to Preschool 101
Farm Based Education Initiatives – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips
Sea to School: Incorporating Local Seafood in School Meals

The conference will also include Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions so that you can connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities.

Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors. This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.


Registration closes on January 7th and is filling up quickly as we have a limit of 350 attendees. Discounts are available for students and conference presenters. Please contact us for more information.

Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

Opportunities still exist for conference sponsorship. This conference is made possible by generous support from businesses and organizations that share the values of the farm to cafeteria movement. We expect the conference to attract over 300 individuals from a variety of fields including school and college dining services, farmers, non-profit organization staff, state agency representatives, legislators, school educators and administrators.

We have a number of different conference sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact us.

For more information and to register, CLICK HERE!

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. …

CLICK HERE to read entire editorial!

The Worcester County Food Bank makes the holidays brighter

By Jean McMurray, executive director, Worcester County Food Bank

The holidays are upon us and, as always, the Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB) and its network of food pantries are grateful for the generous and warm-hearted people who support our efforts to help feed our neighbors in Worcester County during the month of November and throughout the year.  
Neighbors like the two young girls I noticed during a recent visit to one of WCFB’s partner agencies – a church food pantry.  It was a Saturday morning, a beautiful autumn day and the girls were riding their bikes around the neighborhood.  As they rode by, I heard one of the girls ask the other, what food did you get from the church?

The girl exclaimed that she got cupcakes and then added that she also got cereal, rice, and hamburger meat.  As they rode away, I could hear the first girl saying that’s what she got too.  In a matter of moments, I went from feeling glad about the assistance the girls and their families received to feeling sad that a food pantry was a part of their reality at such a young age.

And yet it is a reality for a lot of children and families.  Research by Feeding America, the national network of food banks, suggests that for the majority of households seeking help, pantries are now a part of a household’s long-term strategy to supplement monthly shortfalls in food.

The girls I overheard that day are some of the 35,000 children in 39,000 households in Worcester County – 12% of all households – who do not always know where their next meal is coming from and who turn to WCFB’s network of food pantries and community meal programs for help.  This year, WCFB distributed 5.4 million pounds of food to its network; enough food for approximately 87,000 meals a week.  Individuals and families in need of food can visit WCFB’s website, www.foodbank.org and use the agency locator to find a range of food and nutrition assistance programs.  

The WCFB’s efforts go beyond the distribution of donated food because our mission is to engage, educate, and lead Worcester County in creating a hunger-free community.  We believe that food is a fundamental right of all people and that hunger is an issue of social justice. WCFB is a leading advocate for federal nutrition programs that promote access to healthy food such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps.  For children, we specifically advocate for healthy food and nutritious meals through school breakfast and lunch programs and the summer food service program.   These solutions are systemic and sustainable and they support children and their families in being more food secure and healthy.  

Worcester is a leader in these programs under the guidance of Donna Lombardi, Director of Child Nutrition for the Worcester Public School District.  Worcester families and their children are fortunate to have a strong advocate in Ms. Lombardi and her child nutrition staff who contribute to the educational success of the whole child by addressing their nutritional needs.  They lead a collective effort that includes school administrators, teachers, custodians, and allied organizations such as WCFB and the Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council in supporting child nutrition programs, such as breakfast in the classroom.

This collaboration has a strong funding partner in the Eos Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation, which has pledged a 10-year commitment to support universal free breakfast in the classroom in income eligible schools across Massachusetts.  In May 2014, the Eos Foundation recognized Ms. Lombardi and Worcester Public Schools with a Healthy Start Leadership Award for reaching 80% or higher student participation in school breakfast programs at 18 schools for the 2013-2014 school year – more than any other school district in the Commonwealth.  The award was accompanied by a $10,000 grant, which has been used to incorporate locally grown fruits and vegetables into the school breakfast program.
And when summer vacation comes around, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) strives to ensure that children who depend on school breakfast and lunch during the school year still have access to free, nutritious meals and snacks during the summer when school is out. 

Children need consistent nourishment during the summer so their minds and bodies continue to grow and thrive in healthy ways and they return to school in the fall ready to learn.  

However, in Massachusetts, only one in five low-income children who ate a school lunch during the regular 2012-2013 school year was reached by SFSP, according to the Food Research and Action Center.  So WCFB and Worcester Public Schools teamed up and took SFSP on the road, delivering meals to kids in places where they gather to enjoy summer activities.  Our goal was simple: deliver good food and fun in the sun.

With support from the Our Family Foundation by Stop & Shop New England, WCFB purchased a refrigerated truck and donated it to the Worcester Public Schools.  In the summer of 2013, Worcester Public Schools delivered 4,100 to kids at the Bennett Field swimming pool and the Dennis F. Shine Memorial swimming pool.  In 2014, with a second truck funded by Our Family Foundation and donated by WCFB, the city’s five library sites were added to the delivery schedule and the number of meals provided for kids swelled to more than 13,000.  Ms. Lombardi attributed the increase in participation to a couple of factors – meals being served Monday through Saturday and meals that tasted good and were fun to eat such as fresh produce and yogurt parfaits.  

Another critical resource for families with children is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.  This program, also known as WIC, provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and access to health care to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children up to age 5.  
Child nutrition programs like school meals, summer meals, WIC, and others touch millions of children each day in the United States, and improve educational achievement, economic security, nutrition and health.  More information on these programs can be found at WCFB’s website, www.foodbank.org.

Every five years, Congress reviews a range of child nutrition programs through a reauthorization process and provides funding for these programs to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods.  The current law, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is set to expire on September 30, 2015.  Between now and then, the reauthorization process is an opportunity for everyone who cares about kids and their well-being to advocate for improvements to child nutrition and school meal programs so they better meet the needs of Worcester’s children and all our nation’s children. 

Priorities include continuing to support the momentum of school breakfast expansion in every state, strengthening the Summer Food Service Program so they can meet the needs of children and communities when school is out, and ensuring more children have a healthy start by improving early childhood nutrition programs.

Love Shouldn’t Hurt! October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Parlee and Athena 2

Parlee Jones (left) – a woman of beauty and consequence! Thank you, Parlee, for all your great work in Worcester and beyond!

By Parlee Jones

Peace,  Worcester people!

In my position as Shelter Advocate at Abby’s House, some of the bravest women I have met are the women who are fleeing a Domestic Violence situation.  They are willing to walk away from everything they own, with the clothes on their back, going into the unknown.  Some willing to meet unknown folks at a train station or bus station to go to a new place, a new home.  Some with children, some without children.  Some very young, some middle aged, some older women.  Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, all folks.  Trying to get away from the one they love and who is supposed to be loving them.  Willing and ready to start over again.  Just worried about finding a place to stop the pain.

On September 15, 2010, the National Network to End Domestic Violence did a 24 hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and services reported the following information.  1,746 out of 1,920, or 91%, of identified local domestic violence programs in the United States and territories participated in the 2010 National Census of Domestic Violence Services. The following figures represent the information provided by 1,746 participating programs about services provided during the 24-hour survey period.


70,648 Victims Served in One Day

37,519 domestic violence victims found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs.  33,129 adults and children received non-residential assistance and services, including individual counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.

23,522 Hotline Calls Answered

Domestic violence hotlines are a lifeline for victims in danger, providing support, information, safety planning, and resources. In the 24-hour survey period, local domestic violence programs answered 22,292 calls and the National Domestic Violence Hotline answered 1,230 calls, resulting in more than 16 hotline calls every minute.

Despite helping over 70,500 people on September 15, 2010, domestic violence programs were unable to meet 9,541 requests for services because of a lack of funding, staffing and resources. Although programs have historically struggled to find resources to provide comprehensive services, funding cuts, reduced donations, and dwindling community resources are severely straining programs’ ability to help survivors get back on their feet.

If you are a domestic violence victim, let the people who care about you help you.

1. Confide in someone you trust. If you have a friend or relative who cares about your safety, tell them about the abuse. Sharing a burden with someone makes it lighter. If you’ve left your abusive relationship and are feeling lonely and tempted to return, talk it out with a friend who knows the situation.

2. Don’t let others talk you into taking action that doesn’t feel right to you. You are the only one who knows if you’re ready to leave your relationship, go to the police, or seek emergency shelter. Make your own decisions, based on your own comfort level.

3. Leave an “emergency kit” with a friend. This could include extra money, a set of car keys, a change of clothes and copies of important documents (driver’s license, birth certificates, social security card, health insurance records, documentation of abuse) that may come in handy in an emergency. Think of what you might need if you have to leave your home in a hurry.

4. Ask a friend to accompany you to important appointments. If you have medical appointments, are going to the police, to court, or to see a lawyer, take a friend along for moral support.

5. Make sure a friend knows about your Personal Safety Plan. Start making your own Personal Safety Plan Go over it with a friend and give that friend a copy of the plan.

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.  A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.

In Worcester we have been acknowledging the national awareness of this terrible epidemic with quite a few events. [Still to happen]:

October 27 ~ Daybreak Breakfast:  7:45 – 9:30 am Holy Cross Hogan Campus Center (more info 5608 767 2505 x 3009 $35)

October 29 ~ 6 pm to 8 pm ~ Spoken Word and Music Honorary Concert at the Worcester Public Library. This is going to be an incredible event, with some of Worcester’s most amazing poets and singers! Please join us! 

All month long the Empty Place at the Table Exhibit will be showing at different places including Worcester City Hall, Worcester Public Library, Heywood Hospital, MWCC Student Lounge, Leominster City Hall, Health Alliance Hospital, Holy Cross, Fitchburg State, Quinsigamond Community College Student Life Center, UMASS Hospital and the Worcester Police Department.

For more info on these events you can call Daybreak at 508 767 2505.

National Network to End Domestic Violence http://nnedv.org/

Jane Doe (Mass. Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence http://janedoe.org/

Daybreak http://www.ywcacentralmass.org/domestic-violence

MassResources.org  http://www.massresources.org/domestic-violence-agencies.html

Illegal play area at Quinsigamond Village nursery! NO FENCE around play area – cars galore! Did City of Worcester inspect this place?

By Rosalie Tirella

… Issue the proper permits???

We almost fell outa our car seat this afternoon as we drove into the Quinsigamond Village post office on Greenwood Street to pick up our mail!

Behind the building, there was a gaggle of little kids, around three years old, playing on a teeny strip of land – like two feet away from a driveway where cars zip in and out to leave the post office and other businesses in the strip mall. Children, babies really, were playing in an area that was not fenced in or enclosed in any way!

Is the owner of this place, STEP IN TIME nursery, on drugs???  She opened several weeks ago. Does she not get that she is endangering the very lives she is entrusted to nurture and care for?

Something is terribly wrong here AND ILLEGAL.

I saw two adults “watching” the 20 or so little kids running around in the area.  The kids were fast! How can two sets of eyes keep track of all that energy? Two feet from the BUSY parking lot/driveway!!!

I went inside the shops of the strip mall and the post office and talked with folks. The other biz folks and USPS postal guys were upset over this utter disregard for human life.

A tragedy in the making.

Then I went outside and spoke with one of the teachers. There was a “sign” telling cars/folks – this little plastic green guy in front of the dumpster (see photo below) – that they were about to drive into a little kiddie play area. Another plastic green guy was at the other end of the driveway. I did not take a photo of play area because the children were out playing (you can’t photograph anyone younger than 18 years old without their parents’/guardians’ written permission).

Rose: What are you doing???!! THIS IS TOTALLY DANGEROUS!!! AND ILLEGAL!!! Some little kid is gonna run out and get killed!

The teacher was nice but pointless. She said a fence was gonna be built.

The buck stops with the owner, like it does with any small biz.

THE CHILDREN MUST BE INSIDE until the “play area” is enclosed. The City of Worcester must inspect the play area!

We are stopping blogging now so we can call State Rep. Dan Donahue, the City of Worcester and a passel of Worcester city councilors to drop a dime on Step In Time nursery/day care.

Anything for a buck.

Baby killers.


We’ve added another link – this one to the wonderful Doctors Without Borders website …

… Please check out this gift to the children of the world (click on the website to your right – doctorswithoutborders.org) … and make a donation, if you can!  – R. Tirella

Flooding in the camp causes degradation of hygiene conditions, which in turn triggers an increase in infectious diseases such as malaria and diarrhea, and respiratory infections. In 2012, 75 percent of the admissions in Yida’s MSF hospital happened between June and October.

ALA helps students with asthma return to school

Lung Association Recognizes Asthma-Friendly Schools and Offers Back-to-School Checklist for Students with Asthma

Waltham – Families across the nation are beginning to prepare for the new school year. A new school environment can sometimes be difficult for children with asthma. This back-to-school season, the American Lung Association highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment.

“Asthma is a serious chronic disease that affects millions of children,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Asthma symptoms can often be exacerbated at this time of year and it is important for parents to work with their healthcare provider and school personnel prior to the first day of school on controlling their child’s asthma. We must do all that we can to prevent asthma attacks and missed school days.”

Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders in the nation. It affects an estimated 136,267 Massachusetts children under the age of 18. It is also one of the primary illness-related reasons that students miss school, accounting for more than 10 million lost school days each year. Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. In 2011, more than half of people with current asthma experienced at least one episode, or attack—with children 39 percent more likely than adults to have an asthma episode.

As part of its Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative (AFSI) the American Lung Association launched the Asthma-Friendly Schools Champions Awards earlier this year with support from the Environmental Protection Agency and Genentech Pharmaceuticals. The AFSI Champion Awards recognize schools that have taken positive strides to create a healthier learning environment using the strategies outlined in the Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative.

In preparation for the school year ahead, the American Lung Association urges parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist:

  • Step 1 – Learn about asthma

The American Lung Association has many free resources to help you and your child learn how to keep asthma in control.

  • Visit www.lung.org/asthma to learn about asthma and asthma management. Be sure to watch the short animation What is Asthma? to learn what happens in the airways during an asthma episode.
  • Asthma Basics is a 50-minute online educational tool for people with asthma or anyone who provides care for someone living with asthma. It teaches how to recognize and manage asthma symptoms, how to identify and reduce triggers, how to create an asthma management plan and how to respond to a breathing emergency.
  • Visit Lungtropolis along with your 5-10 year old child. You’ll find action-packed games designed to help kids control their asthma—plus advice for parents.
  • Step 2 – Talk to the school nurse

Together, you and the school nurse, along with your child’s healthcare provider, can work to reduce asthma triggers and manage symptoms while in school.

  • Ask the school nurse to explain and provide all of the required forms you and your child’s healthcare provider need to sign and complete, including an asthma action plan.
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow children to self-carry and use their asthma inhalers while at school. Each law is different; visit www.breatheatschool.org and click on your state to learn more.
  • Discuss your child’s asthma triggers and steps to reduce them in the classroom.
  • Ask about the school’s asthma emergency plan, and if coaches, teachers and staff are trained in how to recognize asthma symptoms and respond to a breathing emergency.
  • Step 3 – Schedule an asthma check-up

Each school year should begin with a visit to your child’s healthcare provider for an asthma check-up. This check-up is the best time to make sure your child is on the right amount of medicine for their asthma, to fill-out any forms required by the school and to create an asthma management plan as described in Step 4. Kids with asthma should visit their healthcare provider every three to six months, depending on how often your child is having symptoms.

An asthma action plan is a written worksheet created by your healthcare provider and tailored to your child’s needs. The plan includes a list of their asthma triggers and symptoms, the names of their medicines and how much medicine to take when needed. The plan also explains the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. An asthma action plan should always be on file in the school nurse’s office and easily accessible to anyone who may need to help your child use their inhaler.

  • Step 5 – Get a flu shot

On average, 1 out of 5 Americans suffers from influenza (flu) every year. Respiratory infections such as the flu are one of the most common asthma triggers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccination. The best way to protect your family from the flu is for everyone to get vaccinated.

For additional information on asthma and children, including a downloadable version of this checklist with even more details, visitwww.lung.org/asthma or call the Lung HelpLine at1-800-LUNG-USA.

Vernon Hill: Is part of the old St. V’s complex … delapidated? Picket at noon, today!

TODAY, WEDNESDAY, at 12PM: Building Safety Concerns Prompt Informational Picket by Social Workers at Worcester DCF

Central Mass Dept. of Children & Families workers call for immediate health, safety inspection to declare building safe for children and families they serve 
WORCESTER – Social workers and community allies are poised to stage an informational picket TODAY at noon over health and safety concerns at the Department of Children & Families (DCF) Worcester facility. The delegation will elevate its demand for an immediate health and safety inspection of the DCF East and West Offices  – 121 Providence Street in Worcester. Conditions in the partially abandoned building have continued to deteriorate in recent months, leading front-line staff to worry if the facilities are safe for the children and families they serve.

For months, social workers and support staff have expressed concerns over the structural integrity, safety and security of the Department of Children & Families facilities in Worcester. Major leaks have reportedly led to water seeping into elevator shafts and at least one ceiling collapse, raising questions of mold content and air quality. Demolition of portions of the building has left exterior walls exposed to the elements, and many interior doors and locks appear to be malfunctioning – prompting serious concerns over illegal access to DCF facilities and abandoned areas within. Even routine maintenance has fallen behind, with staircases and hallways visibly cluttered. DCF workers penned a final letter outlining these health and safety concerns, calling for a response by Wednesday, June 26. A full response has yet to be received. [See full letter below.]

The Providence Street facility provides a variety of services to Department of Children & Families clients throughout Worcester County – including domestic violence counseling, supervised visits for families and case management for children in foster care.  Today’s informational picket will call on concerned residents to contact their legislators and urge immediate action to inspect and address health and safety concerns at DCF facilities.

WHAT: Informational picket calling for immediate health and safety inspection of Dept. of Children & Families Worcester offices

WHO: Social workers and community advocates urging prompt action to ensure local facilities are safe for the children and families they serve

 WHEN: TODAY, Wed., June 26 at 12:00PM

WHERE: Outside the Department of Children & Families Worcester office: 121 Providence Street – Worcester, MA 01604

 (letter, continued) 

From: Floriani, Tara (DCF)

Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013

To: Prendergast, Kelly (DCF); Hogan, Lian (DCF); Fitzsimons, Paul (DCF)

Cc: MacKinnon, Peter (DCF); Manna, Joseph (DCF); King, Khrystian (DCF)

Subject: Building Safety Concerns


We have comprised a list regarding the safety and wellness of our work environment.  We request the following issues to be address and responded to by Wednesday 06/26/2013. 

The membership is requesting a copy of both State Elevator Inspection Certificates no later than 06/18/2013.  As you know they are not posted in the elevator.  We would like the most current inspection report.  On Friday 06/14/2013 Mr. George Ramian from the Office of State Elevator Inspection had many concerns regarding the status of both elevators, including water running though the elevator shafts, lack of lights, and the water collecting at the base of the elevator.

We request that our local fire department to conduct a comprehensive inspection the safety of the building.  We would also like a mock fire drill to ensure all workers and people from the community know how to exit the building.  We also are requesting a copy of the complete report.

We request a completed assessment from a certified structural engineer, as you know the building has many leaks and has caused damage to the integrity of the building.

We request to have a copy of the current Occupancy Permit.

We are requesting that an air quality assessment be conducted in and the results forwarded to the Union.  We are also are requesting that the temperature in the office be regulated at the State mandated levels.

We are concerned with the lack of exits in this building. The doors that are intended for use malfunction by way jamming and the locking system failing.  We have concerns that people may be accessing unauthorized areas within the building.  We are requesting that all the doors and locks be repaired immediately.

On 06/14/2013 OLSOP assessed the building.  We request a copy of the report.

We also are requesting a written document which outlines and speaks to the overall heath and safety of the building.

 Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Tara Floriani, MSW

Department of Children and Families

Intake/Investigation Unit

16.6% of households in Worcester area unable to afford enough food

editor’s note: I have made some sentences bold.

16.6 Percent of Households in Worcester Area Reported in 2012 Inability to Afford Enough Food

Boston  – 15 percent of respondents – or more than one in seven people – in Massachusetts reported in 2012 not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some points during the prior twelve months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

This report provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every region, every state, every Congressional District, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Boston-Cambridge-Quincy; Springfield; and Worcester MSAs in Massachusetts. The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 18.2 percent in 2012. Among states, Mississippi had the highest food hardship rate (24.6 percent) and North Dakota had the lowest (10.9 percent).

For Massachusetts it found that:

  • 15 percent in the state in 2012 said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • For the Worcester MSA, the food hardship rate for 2011-2012 was 16.6 percent, compared to 12.7 percent in the Boston MSA and 18.3 percent in the Springfield MSA.
  • Regionally, Massachusetts’s rate was slightly lower than the regional average. For the Northeast region, 15.9 percent say they were unable to afford enough food.

“It is unacceptable that so many people across Massachusetts are struggling and cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI). “These numbers show us that we must make our nation’s safety net stronger, not weaker. The proposed cuts to SNAP, WIC, Elder Nutrition and other programs are unconscionable and would de-stabilize families that are already struggling.”

FRAC’s food hardship report analyzed data collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008. FRAC analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”

“Persistent unemployment, stagnant wages, and inadequate public programs are contributing to the nation’s high food hardship rate, yet Congress continues to propose cuts that would further fray our nation’s nutrition safety net,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Congress needs to fix the problems rather than doubling down on harming the most vulnerable Americans.”

Representatives from MLRI will be in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America. With more than 700 attendees, the conference will culminate on Tuesday (March 5, 2013) with a day of action on Capitol Hill where attendees will share these data with their lawmakers. MLRI is joining FRAC in urging Members of Congress to strengthen the federal nutrition programs so benefits are sufficient to address hunger and so they reach more households.

One key weakness of SNAP is that its benefit levels are too low to allow people to purchase enough food. A report recently released by the Institute of Medicine underscored the current inadequacy of SNAP benefit levels in ensuring that recipient’s nutritional needs are met, and outlined flaws in how SNAP benefits are currently calculated.

“SNAP benefits must be improved, and not endure further cuts as some in Congress have proposed. A majority of Americans oppose such cuts,” said Katsoulomitis. “The conversation needs to change in Washington, and Congress needs to focus on building – not weakening – our nation’s safety net. The first step is passing a Farm Bill this year that protects and strengthens SNAP.”