May 2013 Hunger in the News The Risks of Lifetime Bans As part of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the United States Congress enacted the lifetime ban

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May 2013

Hunger in the News

The Risks of Lifetime Bans

As part of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the United States Congress enacted the lifetime ban that prevents people convicted of drug felonies from receiving food stamps or cash aid. This destructive policy denies people, who already face the challenge of assimilating themselves back into society, the basic human right to food. The impact of this policy does not end with the individual who was convicted; it fans out through their families and the community.

States were given the authority to opt out of these bans either fully or partially. Currently, 21 states have opted out completely, 19 have a partial or modified ban, and 13 implement the full ban according to the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program State Options Report for 2012. The name of the Food Stamp Program changed to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008. California changed the name of SNAP to CalFresh in 2010. California has a modified ban that does enable people convicted of felony drug possession to receive CalFresh. Those whose felony was for distribution of drugs are subject to the lifetime ban.

The purpose of this discriminatory legislation remains unclear. What is certain are the negative and far reaching effects of this policy. This ban creates a large barrier for reentry into the community and jeopardizes successful rehabilitation. Live-in treatment facilities can apply for CalFresh for their residents, but must address the budget shortfall for those residents who are CalFresh ineligible. Children and family members unfairly bear the brunt of an increased need for food with no means of increasing the food budget as the person who is re-assimilating into the community undergoes treatment and seeks employment. Communities experience an increase in hunger and are denied federal dollars that can alleviate that hunger while benefiting the local economy.

These consequences are reason enough to reverse this disastrous policy, but a new study by Yale researchers that examined food insecurity and HIV risk behaviors in people recently released from prison sheds new light on the extent of the dangerous consequences of these policies. Food insecurity has been identified as a contributing factor to America's public health crisis of obesity and diet related illness, but the connection between food insecurity and increased risk behavior for sexually transmitted disease, resumption of substance abuse, and criminal behavior sheds new light on hunger's devastation and obliterates any imagined fiscal benefit to denying food access. More importantly, this further demonstrates the unfair burden being placed upon the children and family members of those who are facing the almost insurmountable climb back into their community.

Families headed by a single mother constitute a disproportionately large percentage of those who are hungry. If that single mother happens to have a drug related felony in her past and she lives in one of the 32 states that ban her from receiving SNAP, she may be at an increased risk for turning to prostitution to feed her family. Of the women with children who participated in the study, 38% reported not eating for an entire day in the past month and 25% reported that their children did not eat for an entire day in that month. That is an extreme level of food insecurity that is forcing people to make extremely dangerous choices. There is currently a bill in the California legislature that, if passed, will make it possible for more people convicted of a drug felony to receive nutrition assistance from CalFresh, SB 283: Access to Nutrition Assistance to Support Successful Reentry. Please read more about it, and how to advocate for its passing in the Outreach & Advocacy section of this newsletter.


Sequester Watch

The impact from the Sequester that was part of the the 2011Budget Control Act is starting to be felt. Here is a list of the potentially devastating cuts that California is facing:

• 100,300 Californian infants, children and pregnant women will lose their WIC coupons used to buy healthy food to nourish their bodies. Nationwide, 600,000 children and pregnant mothers will lose their WIC coupons. California will bear one-sixth of the total cuts to the WIC program.

• 15,907 Californian low-income families who currently receive housing assistance will lose their rental housing vouchers (Section 8). Nationwide, 125,000 families will lose their housing vouchers. California will bear one-eighth of the cuts to our housing voucher program.

• 8,200 Californian children will not be able to participate in Head Start this year. Nationwide, 70,000 children will not get to start their early education. California will bear one-ninth of the cuts to early childhood education.

• 2,000 California children will lose access to childcare. This is on top of the thousands of kids cut from childcare due to recent state budget cuts. Working parents may lose the jobs that support their families because they will no longer be able to afford childcare.

The Coalition on Human Needs is providing weekly updates as the fallout of these cuts to the safety net, nutrition services, and education is felt throughout the nation. Also worth reading is this New York Times editorial. and this video from the Center for American Progress.


$ Available for Farmers' Market EBT Technology

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that grant funding is available to increase the ability of Farmers' Markets to accept the CalFresh EBT card. The grants are specifically targeted to markets that may need to access wireless technologies due to a lack of access to phone lines or electricity.

CalFresh is accepted at seven farmers' markets in Humboldt County including McKinleyville, Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna, and Garberville. North Coast Grower's Association Farmers' Markets (NCGA) began accepting what was then known as Food Stamps in 2005. With increased outreach efforts and the wildly successful Humboldt Market Match that was introduced in 2011 to promote using the program at farmers' markets, NCGA has seen sales increase from $5,493 in 2008 to $34,363 in 2012!

Humboldt Market Match will be in effect again for the 2013 season at the seven markets mentioned above.

Advocacy In Action!

CalFresh Legislation

The California Association of Food Bank's 2013 State Policy Agenda has been set. These are proposed policy changes that will increase access to CalFresh and simplify the system:

• SB 283 (Hancock): Access to Nutrition Assistance to Support Successful Reentry.Supports successful community reentry by making individuals with a prior drug-related felony conviction who are in compliance with, or have successfully completed, parole or probation fully eligible for nutrition and basic needs assistance through the CalFresh and CalWORKs programs.

• AB 191 (Bocanegra): Food for Health - Aligning Medi-Cal and Nutrition Assistance. Solidifies the connection between nutrition and health by making households with a Medi-Cal recipient categorically eligible for CalFresh, waiving the gross income test for these households. The net income limit of 100% FPL still applies.

• AB 276 (Hueso): No Hunger for Heroes. Makes participation in CalFresh employment and training programs voluntary for veterans. Also requires the State to request a waiver from the federal government to return to pre-2011 rules in which uniformed service members’ Basic Allowance for Housing (money devoted strictly to rent) does not count toward eligibility and benefit calculations for CalFresh.

• SB 672 (Leno): Working Families Hunger Act. For CalFresh applications, allows self-certification for cash wages and verification of dependent care expenses by statement with care provider information. Requires counties using an electronic database for income verification to use this information instead of requiring paper verification and to inform clients of their right view their information in the database and to correct any errors.

These bills need your support, contact your state Senator:

Humboldt County
State Senator
Noreen Evans
State Capitol
1303 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916)651-4002
Fax: (916)319-2101

Or find your representative here..

SNAP In Need of Protection (again).

The 113th United States Congress has set out to accomplish what the 112th Congress failed to do; reauthorize the Farm Bill. Unfortunately, funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is again being proposed as a way to reduce Federal spending.

The Agricultural Subcommittees of the Senate and the House are yet to produce bills, but many have indicated the cuts proposed in 2012 will be revisited. In 2012 the Senate approved a bill that would cut $4.5 billion from SNAP over a decade, while the House Agricultural Subcommittee crafted a bill that would cut $16 billion from SNAP that never made it to the floor.

Cutting SNAP literally takes food off the table for the 48 million participants in the program and reduces much needed federal dollars that are benefiting local economies as the nation still struggles through the recession. Members of Congress, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), advocacy groups, and concerned citizens are again mobilizing to protect the program that has proven to be an effective tool that reduces poverty and alleviates hunger during economic downturn.

The documentary A Place at the Table has brought much needed attention to the high levels of food insecurity in the United States. The film's website has created a SNAP Alumni Gallery that features current and former SNAP recipients who are a testament to the positive impact SNAP has on the lives of Americans.

Calendar of Events & Local Happenings

Bring a Million to Humboldt County!

Food for People's 4th annual Bring a Million to Humboldt County campaign is ready to launch. This annual campaign aims to educate the community about the benefits to our local economy when eligible households participate in CalFresh and to highlight the many changes to program eligibility and the application process.

This year's campaign is a celebration of the successful Humboldt Market Match that provides incentives for CalFresh shoppers who use their benefits at Humboldt County Farmers' Markets.

Throughout the next few months Food for People staff will be traveling throughout Humboldt County offering application assistance and sharing information about CalFresh. Click here for more information about Bring a Million to Humboldt County.

Fortuna Peoples Produce Market Kale

Food For People's Free Produce Market Season Has Begun!

This May Food for People will kick off its 2013 season of free farmers’ market-style produce distributions. Food for People offers these monthly markets to ensure that low-income households throughout Humboldt County have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables necessary to support a healthy diet. As in previous years, distributions will run throughout the summer and into the fall, concluding in October. Markets will be located at Food for People in Eureka, Fortuna Community Services, the Garberville Presbyterian Church, and the Redway Baptist Church. Anyone who meets the income eligibility requirements is invited to attend these produce distributions. It is also requested that those who attend please bring their own bags. The 2013 season dates are as follows:

The Eureka produce distributions occur the third Thursday of each month, from 12:00-2:00pm at Food for People, 307 W. 14th Street. The next one will be on Thursday, June 20th.

The Fortuna produce distributions occur the third Wednesday of each month, 11:30am-1:30pm, at Fortuna Community Services, 2331 Rohnerville Road. The next one will be on Wednesday, June 19th.

The Garberville produce distributions occur on the second Tuesday of each month, 10:30am-12:00pm, at the Garberville Presbyterian Church, 437 Maple Lane. The next one will be on Tuesday, June 11th.

The Redway produce distributions also occur on the second Tuesday of each month, 12:30-1:30pm, at the Redway Baptist Church, 553 Redway Drive. The next one will be on Tuesday, June 11th.

Last year, these markets distributed a combined 151,007 pounds of food to 3,333 low-income households throughout Humboldt County, representing 10,379 individual household members. In addition to fresh produce, some of the markets will also feature live music, free fruit and vegetable samples, cooking tips and demos, and assistance with applying for CalFresh (formerly the Food Stamp Program). Several community organizations will also be present with information about their services.
These produce distributions are sponsored by Food for People through a generous St. Joseph Health System Care for the Poor grant. Food is supplied through two statewide programs: Donate Don’t Dump and Farm to Family. Donate Don’t Dump is operated by California Emergency Foodlink in Sacramento, and captures market surplus for distribution to hunger relief organizations. Farm to Family is a project sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks that accesses produce from the farm fields of the Central Valley and other large agricultural producers and makes it available to food banks. For more information about attending or volunteering at a market, please contact Food for People at (707) 445-3166.

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Food for People's Monthly Cooking Class

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 Ciel Hoyt at Food for People (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:
Heidi McHugh
Community Education & Outreach Coordinator
(707) 445-3166 ext. 308 /
Ciel Hoyt
Nutrition Education Coordinator
ext. 305 /

*Images in this issue are provided by: Food for People, Chris Wisner, the USDA, Stuart Miles, Paul, Danilo Rizzuti, Ambro, healingdream, Master isolated images, Salvatore Vuono,,, Michelle Meiklejohn, and chawalitpix of