After three years of fighting to ensure that the Farm Bill protects hunger-relief programs and advances our mission of a hunger-free America-- we have a resolution. Thank you constituents and champions, your voice made a difference. Today, Congress finalized a new Farm Bill, after the Senate’s 68-32 vote to pass H.R.
Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia got a lot of attention a couple of weeks ago promoting a proposed bill that would require Georgians receiving SNAP/food stamps to pass a drug test before receiving help to feed their family.
For three years, we’ve fought to ensure that the Farm Bill protects hunger-relief programs and advances our mission of a hunger-free America.
Your voice made a difference. Your support helped us defeat proposal after proposal to deepen the cuts to hunger relief programs like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as Food Stamps).
Demand for emergency food aid is at an all-time high, except, we can’t really call it “emergency” aid anymore – not when so many families fight to feed their children on a daily basis and stories of children loading their pockets with crackers at school, so they can try and help feed their siblings at home, have become more common. In Georgia, 1 in 5 people struggle to combat food insecurity.
Transportation, or rather public support for a viable comprehensive transportation solution indicative of a growing major metropolitan city, has long been a hot button issue in Atlanta. According to a 2011 Brookings Institute Transit Accessibility Profile, Atlanta ranks 91st out of 100 metro areas for access to transit. To oversimplify, Atlantans rely heavily on cars as their primary source of transportation in lieu of robust mass transit options.
Over the next few days, Congress will decide the fate of hunger-relief programs in the Farm Bill, and we need to mobilize thousands of phone calls to make sure they protect hungry families by protecting SNAP/Food Stamps and investing in SNAP.
We need you to add your voice to the thousands who will join this important effort. Now, more than ever, it is important to make a phone call to your Members of Congress and help ensure that struggling Americans still have access to programs that help put food on the table.
On day 2 of this Food Stamp Challenge, it had become apparent to me that when my food choices are limited all you can do is think about food. There was certainly a time when out of necessity, much of the days energy was centered on where the next meal would come from, but most of us now live outside of scarcity in the luxury of choice.
I recently attended a reception and was introduced to a civic leader in the community. When she learned that I was the executive director of the Food Bank, she looked me in the eye and said she doesn’t like to support people who use food stamps because they buy things she views as unhealthy. When asked for examples, she mentioned soft drinks, snack food, beer and cigarettes.
On November 1, 2013, every single person who relies on food stamps (SNAP) to help them feed their families will see a cut in the amount they receive. It has nothing to do with the federal shutdown, nor with the House of Representative’s bill that attempts to cut $40 billion from the program over the next 10 years. This is simply the expiration of a modest 2009 boost in benefits to SNAP recipients, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship.
We're two days into the shutdown and one thing for certain has changed: all the usual websites we at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) typically access from the feds are shut down. But we did do a little research ourselves before the shutdown about how this might impact the Food Bank so I'll share a few highlights.
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted to cut the Food Stamp Program (SNAP) by $39 billion, which will result in more than 1.5 billion meals lost in fiscal year 2014 alone. (You can find out how your Representative voted here.) The Atlanta Community Food Bank is deeply disappointed by this vote. We know from direct experience that private charity cannot make up for this substantial cut to federal food assistance.
The House of Representatives will be debating a proposed $40 billion cut to the nation’s food stamp program (now known as SNAP) this week. For a short, bipartisan update on the issue, this piece by former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is a good place to start.
Think food stamps aren’t going to people who really need them? After losing her job “making really decent money” in 2010, Jessica took two jobs to make ends meet. She was still able to manage her expenses, but then was struck by the unexpected. Food stamps provided the safety net she needed. Hear the rest of the story in Jessica’s words:
Think food stamps aren’t going to people who really need them? Marvin moved to Atlanta for a better life after his wife passed away. But as much as he thrives on work, it’s been hard to find a steady job. To make matters worse, he was hit by a car and is still healing from his injury. Food stamps continue to be a life-saver during this difficult time in his life. Hear the rest of the story in Marvin’s words:
As you have all likely heard, last week, the House of Representatives decided to proceed with the Farm Bill by splitting it into two separate pieces of legislation—a farm only bill, which would cover agriculture programs, and a nutrition bill. It remains to be seen what will happen with the nutrition bill, which would fund critical anti-hunger programs like food stamps/SNAP and TEFAP.
Today, the House failed to pass the Farm Bill by a vote of 195-234. We can consider this vote a significant victory for Americans struggling with hunger. Over the past several days, anti-hunger advocates across the country made 2,700 calls to Congress in opposition to the cuts to SNAP/food stamps. Thank you so much again to everyone who was able to make those calls - they made all the difference.
“When just five people call, we know we need to pay more attention.”
Last week, we hosted 18 high school students from across the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s service area for the summer’s first Youth Summit on Hunger and Poverty. Through interactive and hands-on experiences, the annual four-day summit educates teens about hunger and poverty issues in Georgia and our nation.
We are writing with an update on one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting low-income families and food insecure households in Georgia – the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill guides funding for federal farm and food policies, and this includes the Food Stamp/SNAP program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), two vital pieces of legislation for food banks and those we serve. The Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years, and is now making its way through the House and Senate.
We have great news to share with you! Because of everyone's amazing efforts, HB 193, a bill that would create exemptions from state and local sales or use tax for sales of food to food banks and donations of prepared food for hunger or disaster relief, was passed in the Senate at 10:28 PM on the evening of March 28th. Thank you so much for everything you did to make this happen. Last year, this same bill did not pass, and we know that having so many additional folks advocating this year is what made the difference.
Yesterday was a great (and busy!) day for food banks in Georgia. Members from our fellow food banks across Georgia, the Georgia Food Bank Association, representatives from two of our partner agencies, Midtown Assistance Center and Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative and our champion advocates swarmed the Capitol building for Georgia Food Bank Day, and in support of HB 193, a bill that would create exemptions from state and local sales or use tax for sales of food to food banks and donations of prepared food for hunger or disaster relief.
Last night, several Food Bank staffers attended a screening of ‘A Place at the Table’, a new documentary from the filmmakers of ‘Food Inc.’, about hunger in America.
We have an advocacy opportunity and need you to make calls today. Representative Ron Stephens has introduced HB 193!
Why is HB 193 important? It's very important because it directly affects sales tax exemptions for all Georgia food banks. We had these exemptions in place for many years, but they expired in 2010-11. We need to get them back in place!
Last month, around 30 high school students from all over the state came together for Georgia Organics’ Farm to School training at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Farm to School helps get fresher and more nutritious food into schools all over the country. They support education through community gardens; some of which are in schools around the Atlanta area. I do a bit of gardening myself and I feel my school lunches are insufficient to say the least, so I was very excited to learn more about their program.
This week, the Senate took up the Farm Bill, with a final vote in the coming weeks. The Senate is considering amendments and debating the bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee, which contained $4.49 Billion in SNAP (Food Stamp) cuts. As a result, we have a critical window to get our message across before a final vote on the Senate floor.
Many kids can’t wait for summer vacation and what it means for them: fun and friends. But for some families, it means that the kids aren’t able to eat meals at school and food budgets become even tighter.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free summer meals to kids across Georgia similar to School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, except meals are free to all kids that come to a registered summer meals site.
To find a summer meals site near you, call toll free 2-1-1 or text ‘FoodGA’ to 877877.
Feeding America has released their new numbers for Child Food Insecurity rates across the nation. In Georgia, the rates increased from 27.9% to 28.3%. In the counties we serve, some of the numbers have gone down since the last data collection, but they still hover around 20% of children that are food insecure…or higher. To find your county, check out their map. (Be sure to select between overall and child food insecurity rates.) Where do you live?
The Senate Agriculture Committee is set to release its Farm Bill over the next several days and we need to make sure that their bill protects and strengthens critical hunger-relief programs. Additionally, we have learned that Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and John Garamendi (D-CA) are leading a “Special Order” on the floor of the House of Representatives tonight, April 17th, to oppose the House Budget cuts to food stamps/SNAP and other nutrition programs. This Special Order is a good opportunity to build public awareness and support for SNAP.
15% of Americans are now keeping their families fed each month with help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. That’s over 45 million people, or almost 1 out of every 7 folks you pass on the street each day. Those are big numbers so it’s no surprise that everyone from Wolf Blitzer to NPR’s Marketplace noticed and reporte
Our second round of Youth Summit kicked off this week with a new group of teens from metro Atlanta. In the video below, a group volunteered their reflections of their second day. They visited the State Capitol and met with Jennifer Owens, the advocacy director of Georgia Organics and learned about advocacy in their own backyard. After a whirlwind tour, they met with Georgia Minority House Leader Rep. Stacey Abrams and participated in an exercise to either pass or strike down "HB-1": the ban of peanuts in school systems.
Recently, we had the opportunity to go to a local low-income retirement community for a Commodity Supplemental Food Programs (CSFP) distribution. The CSFP is a federally funded program designed to assist low-income senior citizens, mothers and children. We also had mobile benefits screeners from the Food Bank's Atlanta Prosperity Campaign to help those who qualified to apply for food stamps and Medicaid. Watch the video and learn more about our day.
This week, we hosted 18 students from across metro Atlanta for our annual Youth Summit. In three whirlwind days, these high schoolers toured the Food Bank, learned about hunger and advocacy in Georgia, played a Community Food Game (which is a LOT of fun), visited the State Capitol, packed food boxes in our warehouse and volunteered at two agencies we serve, Georgia Avenue and Gateway Center. Phew. You can see why I said whirlwind before!