Food Stamp Benefits at Risk During Government Shutdown - What you Need to Know

This morning, the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force along with several organizations across Idaho convened with the Department of Health and Welfare to discuss the government shutdown as it relates to the food stamp program (SNAP). As of right now, anyone who was approved for SNAP benefits on or BEFORE January 15th will receive their benefits early on January 20th. Those who receive February’s benefits early will NOT receive additional benefits for the month of February. Anyone who was approved on or AFTER January 15th will receive their benefits on their regularly scheduled issuance dates in February. February’s funding is coming from a contingency fund from the 2018 appropriations act, but there are no guarantees about funding for March.

It is suggested that everyone budget the benefits they receive on January 20th so they last until their regular March issuance date. WIC, social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and cash assistance are not funded through the appropriations bill so these programs will not be impacted by the shutdown.     

If the shutdown continues and benefits cannot be extended into March, the USDA may have to take congressional action, which leaves over 19 million households in the United States at risk of serious hardship and our charitable organizations could potentially see dramatic increases in demand. In Idaho, there are over 600 grocery stores accepting SNAP benefits, so this is quite an economic blow, as well. Nearly 76% of Idaho SNAP recipients are families with children and nearly 30% have senior citizens or individuals with disabilities. The majority of SNAP recipients that can work DO work, but many are facing up to 50 days without benefits even if the government opens prior to March.

The Department of Health and Welfare is still encouraging people to apply for the program. It is not expected that the government will remain closed and SNAP funding depleted, but it is important to arm ourselves with as much information as we can.


Anyone facing hardship is encouraged to call the Idaho Care Line at 2-1-1

The Department of Health and Welfare have provided informational posters in English and Spanish for providers to hang in their organizations to inform the public on the changes to their SNAP benefits.

Click here to print a poster

*This information was sourced from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Is the future of agriculture perennial? Imperatives and opportunities to reinvent agriculture by shifting from annual monocultures to perennial polycultures

It is clearly necessary to make this transition. We suggest that humans now also have the capacity to do so. Agricultural landscapes could be redesigned to nourish a growing population in a warmer world, while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants and animals that sustain us. Agriculture could provide meaningful jobs in a solar-based and circular economy while revitalizing rural communities and re-valuing the important work that farmers do for society. It could reduce soil disturbances and degradation, retain nutrients and therefore restore and maintain the ecological integrity of agricultural lands. It could rely on the use of agrochemicals – fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides – only in exceptional cases rather than as normal practice. It could be based on crop diversity in space and time and on the cultivation of hardy and resilient perennial species, reducing the risks associated with extreme weather events and pest infestations. This would not only protect ecosystems from soil erosion and environmental pollution, it would contribute to climate change mitigation through decreased agricultural inputs and increases in soil carbon sequestration. All of this is an entirely feasible vision of the future. Granted, it will be a tall order, requiring social, economic and political changes as well a technological ones, but it is a future we can choose.

New Approaches to Sustainable Agriculture

We have been using the same general processes to produce our food since nomadic humans began settling in the Fertile Crescent and over 10,000 years ago. The scientists at The Land Institute, along with others from around the world, are working on ways we can improve our agricultural habits and promote sustainable food systems that will help societies thrive for generations to come.

New Law Offers Breakfast After the Bell Program for Hungry Students

New Law Offers Breakfast After the Bell Program for Hungry Students

Under Washington State House Bill 1508,  Washington State schools that serve a significant number of low-income students will offer a Breakfast After the Bell program. These are to be put in place by the start of the 2019–20 school year and be available in schools where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. 

Read More

Poor People Deserve To Taste Something Other Than Shame

Poor People Deserve To Taste Something Other Than Shame

"...when we talk disdainfully about poor people buying lobster and steak, or nice phones, or new clothes. We are saying, you are not sorry and ashamed enough. You do not hate your poor existence enough. Because when you are poor, you are supposed to take the help that is never enough and stretch it so you have just enough misery to get by. Because when you are poor you are supposed to eat ramen every day and you are supposed to know that every bite of that nutrition-less soup is your punishment for bad life decisions. Your kids are supposed to be mocked at school for their outdated clothes — how else will they know to not end up like you when they grow up?" - Ijeoma Oluo

Read More

Meridian Farmer's Markets

Farmer's Markets are one of the best ways to participate in the local economy. In Meridian, Idaho, the market is youth ran, and is a great success. Check out Meridian's Farmer's Market on Saturdays at 9 am. "The USDA National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 6-12, will celebrate the vital role markets play in supporting local economies and giving consumers access to healthy local foods.

Summer Meals Closing the Hunger Gap for Children in Idaho

Summer Meals Closing the Hunger Gap for Children in Idaho

 

Boise, Idaho – June 14th, 2016– Only one in 5 low-income children in Idaho who needs summer meals is receiving them, according to a national report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, released today by the Food Research & Action Center. In July 2015, 20,934 low-income children received summer meals in Idaho, a significant decrease of 4.1 percent from the previous summer. 

 

“It’s troubling to see that a growing number of children across our state are missing out on the benefits of summer nutrition programs,” said Crystal Wilson, United Dairymen of Idaho “Idaho can reverse this trend this summer by engaging in aggressive outreach to raise awareness of summer food,” said Crystal. “The Summer Nutrition Programs can make a huge difference for the tens of thousands of children in our state whose families struggle to afford enough food.”

 

The report is an annual analysis of data that measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year. The school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, 21.8 low-income children in Idaho ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 15.8:100, down from last year’s ratio of 16.2:100.

 

           

While Idaho has experienced a decrease in participation from last years’ summer meals sites, Idaho still ranks number 8 out of the top 10 best performing states in the nation! Idaho has taken many steps to improve nutrition quality by providing sponsors more intensive trainings and technical assistance on nutrition quality. In 2015, “the Idaho Department of Education included resources for incorporating more locally sourced food in its sponsor training. The state agency also partnered with the Idaho Farmers Market Association and hosted mobile farmers’ market stops at summer meal sites. Sponsors that incorporate local foods are recognized during the in-person training and through electronic sponsor communications during the summer.”

 

Additionally, the Idaho Dairy Council have partnered with the Idaho Department of Education to help bring classroom materials, milk coolers, and summer food activities to many of the schools throughout the state. In addition to these resources, the Idaho Dairy Council has been invaluable in educating about the benefits of nutrient rich foods, such as low-fat and fat free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains as part of a healthy eating plan.

 

 

 

There is still much room for improvement in Idaho. Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Idaho had reached 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, Idaho would have fed an additional 17,501 low-income children every day in July 2015 and brought in $1,381,302 more federal dollars to do so.

 

“Greater participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity, and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”

 

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program in the summer months, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income Idaho children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. These programs provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged. The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals that are served in positive community environments while the children’s parents are working.

 

Idaho families can find nearby summer meal sites here: http://www.sde.idaho.gov/cnp/sfsp/index.html

 

or by calling the Idaho 2-1-1 CareLine (dial 211) or by texting ‘Lunch’ to 898-211

 

For Spanish: Text FOOD to 877-877 (for Spanish text COMIDA to 877-877)



 

###

 

About the report:

Data for Idaho come from the June 2016 version of the annual report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives 2014 and 2015 data for every state and looks at national and state trends. FRAC measures summer participation during the month of July, when typically almost all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular school year meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.

http://frac.org/pdf/2016_summer_nutrition_report.pdf