June 2011 Issue Hunger in the News Food Security Improved Following the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits A new report from the U.S. Department

June 2011 Issue

Hunger in the News

Food Security Improved Following the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds that the boost to SNAP (food stamp) benefits included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) improved the food security of low-income households.

Food insecurity decreased among low-income households. Household food insecurity fell by 2.2 percentage points, with very low food security falling by 2 percentage points over the same time period.

Low-income households increased their spending on food. Food expenditures increased by 5.4 percent among low-income households.

Food spending increased more among SNAP participants than non-participants. This closed a gap in food spending that had persisted since at least 2001.

“This report shows that, in the midst of one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen, SNAP kept very large numbers of families from going hungry,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center. “SNAP performed as it was intended to – it expanded to meet rising need, and the increased benefits helped millions afford enough nutrition for their households.”

Weill added:"The report means two things: First, more adequate SNAP benefits are important to maintain for the long run. And second, recent proposals in Congress, including the House Republican budget, that would dramatically weaken SNAP must be rejected. A stronger SNAP program leads to lower food insecurity for seniors, children, and adult workers. Congress must keep the program strong so it can continue to be our nation’s first defense against hunger.”

Visit USDA’s website to read the summary and the full report.
Also recommended: State of the USDA: Big Hopes for Food Policy, Small Budget

L.A. County Declares May CalFresh Awareness Month

According to a recent report from Feeding America, more than 1.7 million residents of Los Angeles County were at risk of hunger in 2009, more than any other county in the United States. In response to this crisis, L.A. County has taken proactive steps to boost enrollment in CalFresh (formerly food stamps). The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors even declared May CalFresh Awareness Month. L.A. County Department of Public Social Services Director Philip Browning hopes "this campaign shines a spotlight on the critical role CalFresh plays to help folks struggling to make ends meet keep nutritious food on their tables."

The "Food Stamp" Makeover: Redesign Offers Greater Accessibility for Sonoma

As the CalFresh rebranding spreads across California, some counties are taking this as an opportunity to revamp and streamline their application process. Along with CalFresh rollout, Sonoma County has transitioned from requiring 3 face-to-face visits to an online application, a phone interview, and an EBT card in the mail.

MyPyramid is No More, USDA Announces MyPlate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently unveiled the federal government's new food icon, MyPlate, designed to help remind consumers to make healthier food choices. Joined at the release event by First Lady Michelle Obama, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said "MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles...[and about] making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives."

The announcement was accompanied by a new website, which uses the plate as a guide for web browsing.

The new icon has received high marks for making half the plate fruits and vegetables, however the praise has not been universal. Author Marion Nestle has been following the icon's rollout and reception on her blog, which has multiple links to coverage and analysis of MyPlate.

Also recommended: A Brief History of USDA Food Guides

SNAP / Food Stamps Turns 50

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed his first Executive Order which launched efforts to create what is now known as SNAP. Shortly after the signing of this order, an out-of-work coal miner from McDowell County, West Virgina was the first person to use food stamps to purchase food for his family. Happy Birthday, Food Stamp Program/SNAP/CalFresh!

Advocacy & Action

CalFresh Color Eng Edit

CalFresh Legislative Alert - Action Needed on AB6 & AB69

Both AB6 (Fuentes) and AB69 (Beall) have recently passed the Assembly and will be moving to the Senate shortly. AB6 will create changes vital to the continued success and functionality of CalFresh. AB69 will pilot a program designed to connect California seniors to the program; currently just 10% of eligible seniors participate in CalFresh.

Factsheets, courtesy of the California Food Policy Advocates, can provide more information on AB6 (click here) and AB69 (click here).

See the 'How Can I Help?' section below for more information and to learn what you can do to support these important pieces of legislation.

Legislative Alert - Action Needed on AB152

AB 152 (Fuentes) would increase access to fresh, healthy foods for low-income Californians by creating a state emergency food assistance program and by providing a tax credit for California growers who donate fresh fruits and vegetables to California food banks. Click here to see the AB 152 Factsheet, courtesy of the California Association of Food Banks.

See the 'How Can I Help?' section below for more information and to learn what you can do to support AB152.

How Can I Help?

Act Now! You can help us deliver this message by sending letters of support to key California Senators regarding the importance of AB6, AB69 and AB152.

AB6 - Sample Letter of Support
AB69 - Sample Letter of Support

AB 6 & AB 69 support letter's can be addressed to:
Senate Committee on Human Services
Senator Carol Liu, Chair
State Capitol, Room 5061
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-9478 (updated fax number)
Email: lark.park@sen.ca.gov

AB152 - Sample Letter of Support

AB152 support letters' can be addressed to:
Senate Committee on Health
Senator Ed Hernandez, Chair
State Capitol, Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 94249
Fax: (916) 324-0384
(CAFB would also request you to email or fax a copy of any AB152 support letters to tim@cafoodbanks.org or (510) 272-9171.)

Send copies of any support letters to your own Senator as well, if you are Humboldt County resident, this will be Senator Noreen Evans.
Support letters to Senator Evans can be sent to:
Senator Noreen Evans
State Capitol
1303 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-651-4002
Fax: (916) 323-6958

If you live outside of Humboldt, click here to find your district and Senator's contact information.

Calendar of Events & Local Happenings

Humboldt Market Match

Food for People and the North Coast Growers’ Association are pleased to announce the launch of the Humboldt Market Match, a new program designed to make it easier for low-income households to afford the nutritious foods they need for good health.

The Humboldt Market Match will offer people receiving CalFresh (formerly food stamps) the opportunity to access an additional $5 in spendable market tokens when they spend $10 or more in CalFresh at any North Coast Growers’ Association Farmers’ Market (markets located in Eureka, Arcata, and McKinleyville). Matching funds can be accessed once per market and will be available while funding remains.

Support and funding for this project comes from Roots of Change and a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

For more information on the Humboldt Market Match, visit www.foodforpeople.org or contact Michael Canning (contact information below).

Food for People's Monthly Cooking Class - July 21st

Each month, Food for People organizes a free cooking class for low-income households in Humboldt County. Taught by volunteer chef and College of the Redwoods instructor, Anne Harris, this class teaches basic culinary skills, food and kitchen safety, and how to make nutritious and delicious dishes using commodity foods and fresh produce.

For more information, please contact Jessica Collar at Food for People (contact information below).

Fortuna Peoples Produce Market Kale

Food for People's Free Produce Distributions

Food for People kicked off its 2011 season of free farmers' market style produce distributions this June. As in previous years, distributions will be held at four different locations: Food for People in Eureka, Fortuna Community Services, the Garberville Presbyterian Church and the Redway Baptist Church.

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements is welcome to participate. In addition to fresh produce, some of the markets will also feature live music, free fruit and vegetable samples, cooking tips and CalFresh (formerly food stamps) application assistance for interested households. Several community organizations will also be present with information about their services. Participants are asked to please bring their own bags to the event.

Visit www.foodforpeople.org or contact Michael Canning (contact information below) for more information.

Help the Rio Dell Community Center Earn an Apple Orchard - Vote Today!

Please visit www.communitiestakeroot.com to register and vote for the Rio Dell Community Garden. You can vote once per day per email address, for the Rio Dell Community Garden to receive a fruit tree orchard donation that will help support Food for People's Rio Dell pantry.

The Rio Dell Community Garden is a program of St. Joseph Health System's Rio Dell Community Resource Center. Show your support and vote daily! Help address food security here on the North Coast. Together, we can build a stronger, healthier community!

CalFresh Task Force Meeting June 27th!

The CalFresh Task Force will be holding its next meeting on June 27th in Eureka. If you are interested in attending and have not yet received an e-mail, please contact Michael Canning at Food for People for more information (contact information below).


For more information on Food for People, to refer someone for assistance with CalFresh, to schedule a CalFresh training or application clinic, Hunger 101 presentation, or nutrition education activity for your organization, please contact:
Michael Canning
Community Education & Outreach Coordinator
(707) 445-3166 ext. 308 / mikec@foodforpeople.org
Jessica Collar
Nutrition Education Coordinator
ext. 305 / jcollar@foodforpeople.org

*Images in this issue are provided by: Food for People, the USDA, the Los Angeles County DPSS, and digitalart, Clare Bloomfield, and Rasmus Thomsen of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.