September 2015 Hunger in the News Growth of Senior Poverty in California The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that between 2012 and 2050 the number of

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September 2015

Hunger in the News

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Growth of Senior Poverty in California

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that between 2012 and 2050 the number of people over age 65 will nearly double from 43 million to 83 million. An unfortunate trend accompanying the growth in the senior population is food insecurity and poverty among seniors.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has released new data that suggests currently more than 1 in 5 adults over age 65 in California are unable to afford their basic needs, despite having incomes above the official poverty line. More than 750,000 seniors in California have incomes above the poverty line, but below the Elder Index. The Elder Index was developed in 2009 to address the failure of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), which is used as the baseline to determine eligibility for safety net programs like SNAP (CalFresh), to adjust to the actual cost of living in California. The research revealed that seniors with incomes at 200% of the FPL still cannot make ends meet in California and have to choose between food and rent or food and medicine consistently.

Possible solutions to this growing problem include raising the eligibility guidelines for assistance programs, increasing the benefits levels for safety net programs like CalFresh and Supplemental Security Income, and investment in affordable housing..

California Advocates Testify Before National Commission on Hunger

The National Commission on Hunger (NCH) was created by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 with the task of providing recommendations that will shape the policies that govern social safety net programs. The ten person, bipartisan committee must submit its recommendations to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack and Congress by October of 2015.

The same Congressional act that established the commission also funded an assessment of the scope of domestic hunger that was prepared by a private sector non-profit, RTI-International. The results of this review will inform the commission as it undertakes its work.

The NCH officially launched on January 21, 2015. In this press release, the commission announced its intentions to conduct a series of public hearings throughout the U.S. As of July 2015, six hearings have been conducted. At these hearings, the commission members have heard testimony from both invited speakers and the public. Many of the invited speakers have been anti-poverty advocates and those who work directly to address food insecurity.

The only Western region hearing was held on May 27, 2015 in Oakland, CA, just blocks away from the offices of the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB). Invited speakers included policy advocates from CAFB, California Food Policy Advocates, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Alliance to Transform CalFresh. Sarah Palmer, a Policy Associate at CAFB, wrote this piece for CAFB’s July Newsletter. Sarah’s testimony as an advocate and mother, who herself has utilized programs like WIC and CalFresh, emphasized that over-verification to prove eligibility for these programs can place needed resources out of reach for busy families. Sarah’s testimony, and all other given before the commission at the six hearings held throughout the U.S., are worth reading at the NCH’s website.

Two Studies Show Transportation Access Key to Economic Mobility

The Impacts of Intergenerational Mobility is a Harvard University study that sought to further define the connections between the neighborhood a child grows up in and their future economic mobility. The researchers discovered that transportation, or the lack thereof, factors in as strongly as education and environment. This New York Times story about the study states that, “in a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder.

The relationship between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between mobility and several other factors, like crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community, said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the researchers on the study.”

Humboldt County is roughly 4,000 square miles; long commutes certainly factor into the quality of life for many of us. Respondents to the 2015 Humboldt Food Access and Pantry Services Report were asked to identify additional resources they would like to see at our pantry locations; transportation ranked 4th out of the 17 most common responses. When asked what prevented accessing our food pantries, 43% cited transportation as a barrier to food access.

Advocacy In Action

Three Bills That Will Improve Food Security in California Await the Governor's Signature!

AB 515 (Eggman) will increase the types of healthy food that California growers and food producers can donate to food banks. It's a win-win for helping California farmers reduce food waste while feeding hungry neighbors in need.
AB 1321 (Ting), the California Nutrition Incentives Act, will help California leverage federal dollars to allow low-income Californians to purchase healthy foods at farmers' markets. Programs similar to the Market Match program in Humboldt County will be available to CalFresh shoppers throughout the state.
SB 708 (Mendoza) will reduce the incidence of child hunger by improving access to translated school meal applications and will add links to those applications to connect families to other support programs, such as CalFresh.
The deadline for the governor to sign is October 11. We don't know exactly when the Governor will take action on these bills, so the sooner you can email him to show your support, the better!
*Click here to send a message to Governor Brown, asking him to sign AB 515, AB 1321 and SB 708. Feel free to use the language provided in the form, or customize the message to make it your own.
Send your email today!


Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization

This summer, advocates for childhood nutrition have had their eyes fixed on Washington D.C. as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is due for reauthorization by September 30, 2015. This is a big deal for our nation’s children and families- especially those struggling to make ends meet. The Childhood Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization (CNR) will review, and potentially alter, the regulations and funding for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, After-School Snack, Child and Adult Care Food (CACFP), and Women Infants and Children (WIC) Programs. All will be reviewed by Congress. These programs play a critical role in ensuring that low-income children have access to the nutritious foods they need to grow and to learn.

In addition to reauthorizing the existing programs, the CNR is also a time when Congressional representatives can introduce new bills to further fill in the gaps that keep our nation’s youth from getting adequate nutrition. The most promising bill to be introduced this year is a bipartisan
effort to help families who utilize free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch during when school is in session get through the summers with enough food to feed their children: [The Stop Summer Hunger Act of 2015
( This bipartisan bill would provide $30 per month, per child, to spend on food during the summer months. These benefits will be loaded onto an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, similar to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, CalFresh in California) benefits. Advocates are pushing hard for the passage of this bill, as this will offer families a flexible and dignified solution to the summer meal gap.

Another bill introduced, The Summer Meals Act of 2015, proposes changes to the Summer Lunch Program. Summer Lunch Programs offer free lunch to children ages 18 and under at qualifying locations. Currently, a community-based organization like Food for People qualifies as a summer lunch provider if 49% of children in the surrounding community qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The Summer Meals Act will lower the community qualification standard to 40%, thus giving communities the opportunity to expand this service. The meals must be consumed on site, which creates a barrier for busy families who might benefit from being able to pick up a sack lunch to go. According to the Food Research and Action Center, only 1 in 6 children who eat school lunch are eating summer meals. The California Food Policy Advocates’ Humboldt County Nutrition Profile states that only 18% of local children who receive free meals when school is in session are accessing Summer Lunch. Unfortunately, the Summer Meals Act of 2015 does not remove the barrier of having to eat the meal on site. The Summer Meals Act of 2015 does propose a change that Food for People welcomes: an increase in the reimbursement rate for rural communities that serve summer meals. Food for People coordinates Summer Lunch for 21 sites throughout Humboldt County. The federal reimbursement rate for these meals is the same whether the sites are 1 or 200 miles away from the distribution hub - meaning organizations
like Food for People are responsible for transportation costs. Thanks to the generosity of UPS and Humboldt Transit Authority, Food for People has been able to piggyback coolers of lunches to our meal sites on their established routes. If not for their kindness, the food bank would have to fund this expense. The acknowledgement of the burden of transportation within the CNR is welcome.

A third bill that was introduced, the Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act of 2015, will give preschools and daycare providers the chance to offer more meals and healthier foods to toddlers and preschoolers through increased reimbursement rates and streamlined paperwork. Access to healthy foods can make a lifetime of difference for children of this age group, as it directly affects cognitive development at this stage.
Of concern for childhood nutrition advocates in the CNR is the protection of school meal nutrition standards introduced in 2012. These new standards increased the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables served, reduced trans-fats and sodium levels, and replaced refined grains with whole grains. In 2012, more than one-third of U.S children were overweight or obese, which prompted these needed changes in school nutrition. However some in Congress are fighting back against these standards for a variety of reasons, including that schools can’t keep up with these standards and the misconception that kids simply won’t eat the healthier foods. The new standards have already been rolled back by Congressional amendments, and advocates are prepared to defend what remains of them during the CNR.

Calendar of Events & Local Happenings


#HungerHurts: Hunger Action Month

This September, Food for People, the Food Bank for Humboldt County will join the Feeding America network of food banks for a month to raise awareness about food insecurity both nationally and here in Humboldt County. According to Feeding America, over 49 million Americans were food insecure in 2013. In Humboldt County over 25,000 residents, which is 18% of adults and 27% of children, reported not knowing where their next meal was coming from at some time in 2013.

Food for People is encouraging our community to take action with the “30 Ways in 30 Days” calendar of activities for Hunger Action Month. Food for People will also post activities and events daily on our Facebook page. Last year, we invited the community to share their feelings about hunger and how it affects their lives through the #HungerHurts project. People were invited to take a picture of themselves holding a sign that states how hunger hurts them and their family, friends, students, patients, coworkers, and neighbors . Local doctors, politicians, teachers, students and chefs shared their unique perspective of the broad impact of food insecurity in Humboldt. Food for People is pleased to announce that we will again invite the community to share how #HungerHurts for Hunger Action Month 2015.

We also have something new to add this year: #HungerHeroes. Because Hunger Action Month isn’t just about raising awareness that our neighbors may be hungry; it’s also about taking action to end hunger! There are so many ways that our community has stepped up to fight hunger: volunteering, holding a food drive, and donating to the food bank are just a few ways that our community has shown how much they care for each other. Food for People wants to highlight these everyday heroes who are making a big difference in our neighborhoods. Last year, 502 community members like you donated over 34,000 hours of their time to Food for People! With your help we distributed 2.2 million pounds of food last year, and our services reached more than 12,000 individuals in Humboldt County monthly through 14 different programs. Help us honor #HungerHeroes at our Hunger Action Month webpage To learn more about hunger in Humboldt County, visit the Hunger Education section of our webpage.

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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 available at the food bank.

For more information, please contact Cassandra Culps 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 /
Michael Quintana
CalFresh Application Assistor
ext.318 /
Cassandra Culps
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, Participant Media