Blog Posts – Food Research & Action Center http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com Food Research & Action Center Fri, 16 Nov 2018 18:16:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Veterans Have Fought for Our Country — They Shouldn’t Have to Fight Against Hunger. http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com/blog/veterans-fought-country-shouldnt-fight-hunger Fri, 09 Nov 2018 15:47:10 +0000 /?post_type=blog&p=6018 November 9, 2018 Veterans Day provides an opportunity to salute the brave individuals who have served our country. For me, the day begins with wondering why so many men and women who have served our country now struggle with hunger. It’s simply unacceptable in one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Beyond an empty stomach, food […]

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November 9, 2018

Veterans Day provides an opportunity to salute the brave individuals who have served our country. For me, the day begins with wondering why so many men and women who have served our country now struggle with hunger. It’s simply unacceptable in one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Beyond an empty stomach, food insecurity is associated with serious and costly health problems that no veteran should experience.

Food insecurity among veterans is a prevalent issue that cuts across gender, age, and housing status. A study in Women’s Health Issues found that 27.6 percent of female veterans were “food insufficient,” and food insufficiency was associated with poor health outcomes among female veterans. Another recent study in Public Health Nutrition documented rates of food insecurity among veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were almost twice as high as rates among the general population. In addition, a study from the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans found that nearly 50 percent of a national sample of screened veterans who were homeless, at-risk for homelessness, or recently homeless experienced food insecurity.

Fortunately, efforts across the country are underway to ensure that no veteran goes hungry.

To promote veteran food security, organizations are creating innovative programs and partnerships. This fall, the Military Families Advisory Network established a coalition with FRAC and other service, advocacy, and education organizations to examine why so many military families are facing food insecurity, and develop solutions to the problem. Last year, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) began screening its patients for food insecurity in response to recent light shed on veteran hunger. In just one year, the VHA has screened more than 3 million patients and connected those in need to crucial nutrition safety net programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and emergency food sites, such as food banks and pantries .

SNAP, in particular, is critical to ending veteran food insecurity. Nationwide, nearly 1.4 million households with veterans — about 7 percent of all veteran households — use SNAP benefits, providing the purchasing power necessary to buy food in a dignified way at military commissaries and other food retail outlets that accept SNAP. The program not only helps veterans everywhere put food on the table, it reduces poverty, supports economic stability, and improves health outcomes.

Alongside increasing veteran participation in SNAP, eradicating veteran food insecurity and hunger will require a national response that addresses underlying causes (e.g., a lack of well-paying jobs and a lack of affordable housing). Supporting veterans by making sure they can access adequate nutrition should be a top priority for our nation. Veterans have fought for our country. They shouldn’t have to fight against hunger.

Check out more from FRAC Chat to learn about food insecurity and hunger among veterans.

 

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Beyond the Numbers: Storytelling Highlights the Power of SNAP http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com/blog/beyond-numbers-storytelling-highlights-power-snap Mon, 05 Nov 2018 15:46:08 +0000 /?post_type=blog&p=6001 November 5, 2018 The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits that helped lift over 3 million Americans out poverty in 2017 and that helped feed 40 million low-income individuals in an average month last year. While those numbers make it clear that SNAP matters to Americans, the narratives of SNAP recipients provide powerful, personal […]

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November 5, 2018

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits that helped lift over 3 million Americans out poverty in 2017 and that helped feed 40 million low-income individuals in an average month last year. While those numbers make it clear that SNAP matters to Americans, the narratives of SNAP recipients provide powerful, personal snapshots of the program’s impact.

The State of Obesity recently released a collection of firsthand accounts from SNAP participants. The collection of SNAP stories goes beyond facts and figures and uses personal experience to discuss the critical support SNAP provides to individuals from all walks of life across the nation. StoryCorps and Upworthy produced the narratives with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Below are illuminating excerpts from the story collection:

  “I was able to keep up on my fresh produce. Produce is expensive. With my SNAP benefits, I’m able to buy fresh vegetables and fresh fruit that are high in nutrients for breastfeeding moms.” (Andrika Harmon and Kristi Gay, “How SNAP Enables this Busy Alabama Mom to Provide for her Young Family”)

  “The one thing that I learned from my mother was that individuals … need help at some time in their life, for whatever situation … people use [SNAP] for the time they need it. I was one of those people. This is what enabled me to finish college, and I went on to get more degrees and have a career. Having those benefits was my way out and my way to make a better life for myself and my daughters.” (Kolia Souza and Brian Johnson, “How SNAP Helped this Kansas Mom Leave an Abusive Relationship”)

“The whole time I was in college, I was trying to figure out a way to make sure that I could take care of my daughter. I still had to work. I couldn’t stay on campus because I had a child. I lived in an apartment, and so I still needed to cover my rent, utility bills, Pampers, clothes. I worked every single day of the week, but there wasn’t enough money to do all of it. By having SNAP benefits, I didn’t have to worry about food.” (Jennifer Wells-Marshall and Helen Jones, “How SNAP Helped this Alabama Mom Graduate College and Give her Daughter a Healthy Start”)

“I try not to make any assumptions about other people’s lives because it’s easy to suddenly be in that place where you have nowhere to go … And you never know who’s going through something like that.” (Stephanie Land, “This mom left an abusive relationship and fell into poverty. Here’s how she got out.”)

  “It’s people like you that give us a sense that we can get through this hard time.” (Shayna Horne and Tiffany Nieto-Gaytan, “How SNAP Supports this Texas Family Following their Military Service”)

Dive into The State of Obesity’s “SNAP Stories” collection in full.

 

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Local Advocates Bring a “Burst of Food Advocacy Energy” to Maryland http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com/blog/local-advocates-bring-burst-food-advocacy-energy-maryland Wed, 24 Oct 2018 13:57:14 +0000 /?post_type=blog&p=5946 October 24, 2018 Maryland is the wealthiest state in the nation, but not all Marylanders share in the prosperity. More than 10 percent of Marylanders face food insecurity. The food insecurity rate for households with children is even higher, at 21 percent. To address food insecurity and poverty in Maryland, more than 150 Marylanders came […]

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October 24, 2018

Maryland is the wealthiest state in the nation, but not all Marylanders share in the prosperity. More than 10 percent of Marylanders face food insecurity. The food insecurity rate for households with children is even higher, at 21 percent.

To address food insecurity and poverty in Maryland, more than 150 Marylanders came together for the eighth annual Maryland Food Access and Nutrition Network (MFANN) Fighting Hunger in Maryland conference in Annapolis on October 9. As the only statewide anti-hunger conference, MFANN Fighting Hunger in Maryland connects leaders from state and local agencies, nonprofits, schools, and advocacy organizations to inform, engage, and inspire action to reduce hunger and promote equity in food access and nutrition in Maryland.

This year’s keynote speakers, Jim Weill, president of the Food Research & Action Center, and Pat Dombroski, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), addressed the conference’s theme of “Meals Matter” to examine the root causes of hunger, and identify policies and practices to make Maryland a more equitable and food-secure state. Weill spoke about the challenges that Congress faces in reconciling the different versions of the Farm Bill, as well as the dire impacts of the proposed public charge rule on immigrants and communities across America. Administrator Dombroski gave a rundown of the numerous USDA programs in place to reduce hunger among low-income Marylanders, including school meals, afterschool meals, and SNAP. She reported on the success of these programs, but noted there is still much work to be done to end hunger in Maryland.

MFANN included more than a half-dozen moderated panel discussions, which ranged from “Nutrition Matters,” featuring food and nutrition directors from local school systems, to “Advocacy Matters,” with local and federal advocacy experts and a current state Senator. Participants were given real examples of successes and challenges and an opportunity to network with each other.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a conference without an awards ceremony. During lunch, Delegate Eric Luedtke was recognized as Legislator of the Year; Samantha Zwerling, chief of staff to former State Senator Richard Madaleno, received the Legislative Staffer of the Year award; Laurie Taylor-Mitchell of Baltimore County was awarded for being the Community Activist of the Year; and Brian Ralph, food and nutrition director for Howard County Public Schools, was given the Food and Nutrition Services Director of the Year award.

Lunch was prepared and served by students in the Maryland Food Bank’s FoodWorks Culinary Training Program, and it was delicious!

Several smaller roundtable discussions closed out the conference, focusing on important topics, such as the role community health workers can play in addressing food insecurity, and how to increase food access for individuals with disabilities. One participant noted that the conference “provided a burst of food advocacy energy and a lot of good information to process.”

That burst of energy will surely be felt in Annapolis throughout the coming year, including in January when the Maryland General Assembly begins its 2019 legislative session.

Learn more about hunger and poverty in Maryland on the Maryland Hunger Solutions website.

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#RaiseYourHand for Community Eligibility Districts During #NSLW2018 http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com/blog/raiseyourhand-community-eligibility-districts-nslw2018 Thu, 18 Oct 2018 15:57:00 +0000 /?post_type=blog&p=5934 October 18, 2018 National School Lunch Week 2018 is the perfect time to applaud school districts for expanding access to school lunch (and breakfast) by adopting community eligibility. Community eligibility reduces barriers to school meal participation by allowing high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students while also eliminating the […]

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October 18, 2018

National School Lunch Week 2018 is the perfect time to applaud school districts for expanding access to school lunch (and breakfast) by adopting community eligibility. Community eligibility reduces barriers to school meal participation by allowing high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students while also eliminating the school meal application process. Data show that participation in community eligibility is on the rise due to the many benefits it has on school meals participation and program operations. Schools that implement community eligibility frequently see participation in school breakfast and lunch programs increase, meaning more children are getting the nutrition they need to learn throughout the day. School staff appreciate the simplified administrative processes that community eligibility provides. In these ways and more, community eligibility is a win for everyone.

Raise your hand for the many school districts across the country that are stepping up to the challenge of fighting hunger in their schools by adopting community eligibility. Below are just a few model school districts that show how invaluable community eligibility and school meals are for students.

Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin, TX

AISD expanded community eligibility to an additional 14 schools at the beginning of the 2018–2019 school year, resulting in 43 total schools operating community eligibility in the district. The district has prioritized increasing school breakfast participation by operating breakfast after the bell programs, such as breakfast in the classroom and “grab and go,” in 52 of its schools, with plans to expand further.

‣  “Community eligibility helps us expand food access in Austin by making meals free to all students on campus. When meals are accessible to all students, they become a way to build community and relationships. Community eligibility helps make our campuses become welcoming places that are focused on the whole child.” Anneliese Tanner, Executive Director, AISD Food Services and Warehouse Operations

 Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), Sacramento, CA

SCUSD is a great example of a school district thinking critically about which federal provisions ensure low-income students have access to school meals at no cost. SCUSD has adopted community eligibility in 58 of its 80 schools during the 2018–2019 school year, reaching more than 7,000 students. Using community eligibility data, the school district realized that 14 schools using non-pricing to offer free school breakfast could adopt community eligibility and offer school lunch at no cost as well. The school district also had also been using Provision 2 in some schools to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost, but then shifted to using community eligibility at these schools so that families would no longer have to submit school meal applications.

‣  “SCUSD was excited to offer community eligibility to 58 of the 80 schools we serve for the 2018–2019 school year and beyond. Now 7,178 more students have access to free school meals without the burden of a meal application.” Diana Flores, SCUSD Director of Nutrition Services

 Lee County Schools, Fort Myers, FL

This year, Lee County Schools began offering free breakfast and lunch districtwide to all students through community eligibility. The district implemented community eligibility in all 85 schools because they knew it would benefit students, the school district, and the community as a whole. The district has already seen an increase in participation among students who otherwise would have had to pay for meals and students who previously qualified for free and reduced-price meals. The district attributes this success to students no longer feeling a stigma attached to participating in school meals because all students now eat at no cost.

  “There was a stigma that students felt when they were getting school meals on the free or reduced-price program. They didn’t want to be singled out as the kid who got free school meals, so some were passing on the meals just to avoid that feeling. Now with community eligibility, everyone is on the same playing field, and no one stands out more than the other since all meals are at no charge to all of our students.” Lauren Couchois, Lee County Schools Director of Food and Nutrition Services and Warehouse Operations

 It’s impossible to feature all school districts doing amazing work through community eligibility in just one blog post. If there is a school district in your community that recently adopted or expanded the use of community eligibility, use National School Lunch Week 2018 as an opportunity to raise your hand for the important work they are doing to feed hungry students.

For more information on community eligibility, visit FRAC.org.

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Afterschool Suppers: Moving in the Right Direction http://www.frac.org.php56-17.dfw3-1.websitetestlink.com/blog/afterschool-suppers-moving-right-direction Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:26:52 +0000 /?post_type=blog&p=5888 FRAC’s Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation report released this week finds that in October 2017, 1.2 million children received an afterschool supper, an 11 percent increase from October 2016, and 1.6 million children received a snack on an average weekday. More than 46,000 afterschool programs provided a supper, a snack, or both through the […]

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FRAC’s Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation report released this week finds that in October 2017, 1.2 million children received an afterschool supper, an 11 percent increase from October 2016, and 1.6 million children received a snack on an average weekday. More than 46,000 afterschool programs provided a supper, a snack, or both through the Afterschool Nutrition Programs in October 2017.

This rate of increase was more than double the growth seen between October 2015 and October 2016, demonstrating the impact that outreach, collaboration, and implementation of best practices can have on reaching more children with this important program.

While positive gains have been made over the last eight years since the Afterschool Supper Program became available nationwide, afterschool suppers are still falling short of the need — serving 1.2 million children during an average day in October 2017 meant only 1 in 19 of the low-income children who participate in school lunch during the school year received an afterschool supper.

Fortunately, there are a number of successful strategies to use to push increased participation in afterschool suppers. These include switching the offering from snacks to suppers (or serving both snacks and suppers); recruiting more school districts to provide afterschool suppers and snacks; engaging schools in sponsoring other sites in the community; supporting and expanding year-round participation; streamlining and simplifying the Afterschool Supper Program; serving meals during weekends, holidays, and school closures; and improving meal quality.

However, to maximize participation most effectively in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs, there must be enough afterschool programs offering educational and enrichment activities that every family can access and afford. Afterschool programming not only draws children into safe and engaging learning environments, it also provides a critical — and required — foundation for providing federally reimbursable afterschool meals. Increasing public (federal, state, and local) and private funding to operate afterschool programs in low-income communities is key to ensuring more students have access to afterschool meals.

Partners from every level — the U.S. Department of Agriculture; state agencies; and anti-hunger, afterschool, and child advocates — need to intensify their efforts to ensure there are enough afterschool programs serving children — and serving meals — so that every child has access to the nutrition and programming they need to support their academic achievement, health, and well-being. FRAC’s resources and research can support your efforts to increase afterschool meals participation in your state and local community.

Learn more about closing the afterschool hunger gap in Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation.

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