Thousands of Magic Valley Children are
Kimberlee Kruesi, Times News
In a time when childhood obesity numbers are
consistently rising, it’s hard to imagine child hunger as a
Yet, according to a recent study, the problem not only
exists in Idaho but it is expanding. The report shows that
more than 95,000 Idaho children are “food insecure,” or
lack the food they need to maintain healthy lives. A
previous study conducted by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture during 2006-2008 concluded that 66,000 Idaho
children were food insecure.
The new study, funded by the Idaho Foodbank and Feeding
America, compared county child food insecurity rates from
2009 to the overall state mark of 23.4 percent. In
south-central Idaho, Blaine and Twin Falls counties fell
below the state rate, while remaining area counties, led by
Camas County’s 28.5 percent, came in above it.
Having county data is helpful in spotting pockets of
need throughout the state, said Kathy Gardner, director of
the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force.
“This data is important. It tells us where we need to
increase access to free food programs for children,” she
Many schools hold free lunch programs throughout the
summer, but Gardner said a major issue is getting the food
“In Idaho, many kids live in rural areas and maybe can’t
get to the lunches,” she said. “We need to change
While Idaho has food banks set up across the state to
help those in need, schools run the majority of children’s
In Twin Falls, close to 2,000 children are fed daily
during a free summer lunch program, said Susan Henderson,
food services supervisor for the Twin Falls School
District. Lunches are distributed in parks throughout the
summer, but the handouts will stop once the school year
begins and free or reduced-price meals are served in the
“At least these kids know where to get one good meal a
day,” Henderson said.
The recession has also increased the number of hungry
children in Idaho, said Carolyn Sullivan, Jerome School
District food service supervisor.
“I’ve seen an upward trend of more children coming to
school hungry and are just not getting fed at home,”
Sullivan said. “As times are changing, these programs are
critical so no child is left hungry.”
Ban on Using
Food Stamps to Buy Soda Rejected by USDA
Patrick McGeehan, New York
Federal officials on Friday rejected Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg’s proposal to bar New York City’s food stamp users
from buying soda and other sugary drinks with them.
The decision derailed one of the mayor’s big ideas to fight
obesity and poor nutrition in the city. Mr. Bloomberg and the
city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, were quick to
criticize the ruling by the United States Department of
Agriculture as a disservice to low-income residents.
Dr. Farley, who said he was “very upset” by the decision,
said that it “ really calls into question how serious the
U.S.D.A. is about addressing the nation’s most serious
In October, city and state officials proposed a two-year
experiment to see if the prohibition would reduce obesity among
people who buy their groceries with food stamps. Dr. Farley
said that about 57 percent of adults in the city and 40 percent
of the children in its public schools were overweight or obese,
and that obesity was especially rampant in low-income
neighborhoods. Limiting consumption of sodas and other drinks
with high sugar content, he argued, could help reverse that
But in a letter to a New York State official, an
administrator of the food stamp program in Washington said the
city’s proposed experiment would have been “too large and
complex” to implement and evaluate.
Jessica Shahin, an associate administrator in the
Agriculture Department, wrote that the waiver the city sought
was denied because of the logistical difficulty of sorting out
which beverages could or could not be purchased with food
stamps and because it would be hard to gauge how effective the
step was in reducing obesity. As an alternative, Ms. Shahin
suggested the federal government could work with the city on
other efforts to encourage consumers to make “healthy
Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, said in a
statement that the department “has a longstanding tradition of
supporting and promoting incentive-based solutions that are
better-suited for the working families, elderly and other
low-income individuals” who rely on food stamps than
restrictions are. “We are confident that we can solve the
problem of obesity and promote good nutrition and health for
all Americans and stand ready to work with New York City to
achieve these goals.”
The city’s proposal was part of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign to
make the city a healthier place, which has included banning
smoking indoors and in public parks, barring restaurants from
cooking with trans fats and requiring them to inform customers
about calorie counts. The mayor was not pleased with the
“We think our innovative pilot would have done more to
protect people from the crippling effects of preventable
illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything else being
proposed elsewhere in this country — and at little or no cost
to taxpayers,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “We’re
disappointed that the federal government didn’t agree, and
sorry that families and children may suffer from their
unwillingness to explore our proposal. New York City will
continue to pursue new and unconventional ways to combat the
health problems that hurt New Yorkers and Americans from coast
The decision was a victory for the soft-drink industry,
which had lobbied against the proposal, and for advocates for
the poor and underfed, who had argued that the government
should not stigmatize them by taking away their right to shop
like other consumers. The food-selling industry also contended
that it would be too complicated for stores to have to program
their registers differently in the city than elsewhere.
“It was a big deal not to start breaking up the programs,”
said Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president for government
relations at the Food Marketing Institute in Washington.
The disappointment of Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Farley was
matched by the thrill in the voice of Joel Berg, the executive
director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, who
cheered the federal government for “deciding not to
micromanage” the lives of poor people.
“The whole attempt was misguided and unworkable,” Mr. Berg
said. “This proposal was based on the false assumption that
poor people were somehow ignorant or culturally deficient.”
The decision was the second in seven years in which the
Agriculture Department rejected such a proposed ban. In 2004,
it denied a request by officials in Minnesota to prevent food
stamp recipients from buying junk food.
The Agriculture Department questioned the merits of that
plan, which focused on candy and soda, among other foods, and
said it would “perpetuate the myth” that food stamp users made
poor shopping decisions.
Mr. Berg and other advocates for the poor and underfed said
that New York City’s proposal would have had a similar effect.
Instead of restricting the dietary choices of low-income
residents, he said, city officials should reconsider how to
increase the purchasing power of low-income residents so that
they can buy food that is more nutritious.
“If healthier food is made affordable and accessible,” he
said, “low-income people will line up to get it.”
Nearly One in Four of
Nation's Households with Children Report Inability to Afford
Access the full report HERE
or visit our Resources page
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) release
Washington, D.C. – August 11, 2011 – Nearly one in four U.S.
households with children struggled to afford enough food for
themselves and their families in 2010, according to a new
report released today by the Food Research and Action
Center (FRAC). The analysis separately examines food hardship
rates – the inability to afford enough food – for households
with children and without children nationally and in every
state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s
largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).
FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series
analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to
FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways
Well-Being Index project, which has interviewed more than one
million households since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed
responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past
twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food
that you or your family needed?”
The analysis released today shows that food hardship rates are
very high both for households with children and for households
without children. Nationally in 2010 the food hardship rate for
households without children was 14.9 percent, and it was 23.4
percent for families with children.
When examining state data just for households without
children, every state (except for one) reports food hardship
rates higher than 10 percent in 2009-2010 and five states
report rates of 20 percent or higher.
But, not surprisingly, given relative national poverty and
hunger rates, the situation for households with
children is far worse. Among the findings of deep and
widespread food hardship are the following:
- 368 Congressional Districts have at least one
in six households with children struggling with
food hardship, answering that they did not have enough
money to buy needed food at times in the last 12 months.
195 Congressional Districts have a food hardship rate of
at least one in four for households with
- Of the 100 largest MSAs, 40 had at least one in
four households with children (25 percent or more)
struggling with food hardship and every one of the
100 largest MSAs had 15 percent or more of such
households affirmatively answering the Gallup question.
- In 21 states and the District of Columbia the rate for
households with children reporting food hardship
exceeded 25 percent.
“The data in this report show that food hardship – running
out of money to buy the food that households need – is a
substantial challenge in every corner of this country,” said
FRAC President Jim Weill. “These data demonstrate, as if any
further evidence were needed, that this is not the time to make
our safety net weaker. Congress must ensure that all deficit
consideration protects federal nutrition programs – SNAP (food
stamps) and child nutrition and senior nutrition programs – and
other parts of the safety net that help low-income
“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress
should know already -- that his or her district has tens of
thousands of households struggling with hunger or food
insecurity,” said Weill. “Weakening any of these key safety net
programs will make hunger and malnutrition more common and
deeper. It will increase fiscal deficits, further weaken the
economy, and increase human suffering in the district.”
FRAC also noted that the data in this report show states,
cities, counties and school districts have to do a much better
job using federally-funded anti-hunger programs in order to
reduce hunger. State participation rates and shortfalls in key
programs can be found on FRAC’s website. Reaching more people with
these programs would translate to less hunger, healthier
children, more federal dollars flowing into the state, more
economic growth, and more jobs.
Efforts to Tackle Hunger Gain National Spotlight: Kathy
Gardner Named Finalist for AARP Foundation's Nationwide Hunger
BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 6
million older Americans face the threat of hunger and are
forced to skip meals, or choose between paying for groceries or
their prescriptions, with Idaho having one of the highest food
hardship rates in the nation. Few people know this better
than Kathy Gardner, the Director of the Idaho Hunger Relief
Task Force, and few are doing as much to stop it – now her work
is in the national spotlight.
Gardner's efforts to end hunger in Idaho and her innovative
approach to tackling hunger issues in the state haven't just
garnered her a nomination for the AARP Foundation's Hunger Hero
Award, it's made her one of five finalists out of over one
hundred nominees nationwide.
Through The Drive to End Hunger (a national effort to help
end senior hunger in America), the contest recognizes
extraordinary people (aged 50+) whose efforts to combat hunger
inspire and motivate others to action. Gardner's work
with refugees in Idaho made her a clear standout, having
established the Somali Bantu African Food Project. The
project enables the Somali Bantu (refugees from Southeastern
Africa) to harvest foods indigenous to their home, and has
distributed over 300,000 pounds of food, as well as helping the
group raise funds for other projects by selling their harvest
at the Capitol City Farmer's Market – efforts led by the
"Kathy's work has helped tens of thousands of Idahoans
threatened by hunger have access to the basic necessity of a
meal," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.
"She doesn't do this work for any other reason than to
make a difference in people's lives - we're glad her efforts
are being recognized."
In addition to national recognition with their profile in
AARP The Magazine and an Inspire Award from the
publication, the AARP Foundation will also make a $15,000
donation to the winner's charity to help that organization
continue working to end senior hunger.
"Idaho is a particularly vulnerable state when it comes to
hunger, and we've got a lot of work ahead to continue to tackle
this issue," said Kathy Gardner, Director for the Idaho Hunger
Relief Task Force. "It is an honor to be nominated as a
Hunger Hero, the award money that comes with the national
recognition would go an especially long way in a rural state
The finalist with the most votes wins. To read more about
Gardner's story, and those of the other finalists, and vote,
people can visit: www.aarp.org/hungerhero (voting begins
today, people can cast one vote per day ending September 24).
Gardner's other efforts in Idaho include launching the
Hunger Free Community Initiative in Emmett, involving
lawmakers, senior centers, food pantries, farmers and school
districts to tackle food insecurity in the area; creating a
Senior Farmer's Marker Nutrition Program; and working to remove
barriers to Idahoans' participation in the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) across the
USDA Awards Grants to
Reduce Hunger and Improve Nutrition of School-Aged Kids by
Improving Enrollment in School Nutrition Programs: Idaho is
Chosen as a Grant Recipient
USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack today announced new investments in New Hampshire and
Idaho to help eliminate childhood hunger and improve nutrition
and health for school-aged kids. The grants are awarded to the
two state agencies to reduce paperwork and expedite
certification of students for free meals in the National School
Lunch and School Breakfast Programs through a process called
"Direct certification is a useful tool that allows us to get
healthy meals to our kids so that they get access to the
nutrition they need to learn and thrive," said Vilsack. "These
grants will help states improve their direct certification
process so that fewer eligible families will have to fill out
duplicative paperwork for healthy school meals."
With direct certification, states and local, educational
agencies can automatically enroll students from households
already participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
without requiring the child's family to complete an additional
application. The investments announced today are intended to
help improve direct certification rates for children in
households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Agencies administering the National School Lunch Program in
New Hampshire and Idaho were chosen to receive the grants
provided by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration and Related Agencies Act of 2010. Idaho will
receive $513,190 and New Hampshire, $109,916. USDA's Food and
Nutrition Service expects to award additional grants to states
meeting eligibility requirements each quarter over the next
year. Direct Certification Grants totaling nearly $3 million
have been made to 15 states since January, including those
Under Secretary Kevin Concannon underscored the importance
of the grants, "Direct certification is a trifecta for schools,
parents and children. Schools and parents benefit from reduced
paperwork, and children get better access to healthy school
meals.," he said. "And these grants help states do that."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition
assistance programs that, in addition to the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program and National School Lunch Program,
also include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
Women, Infants and Children, and the Summer Food Service
Program. Taken together, these programs comprise America's
nutrition safety net.
Food Stamps: The
Struggle to Eat
The Economist, July 14th
WHEN the dismal news came on July 8th that the
unemployment rate had risen fractionally to 9.2%, both
Republicans and Democrats declared the data proof of the
folly of the other party’s policies. How, Republicans
asked, could Democrats even consider raising taxes when the
economy is so weak? How, Democrats retorted, could
Republicans advocate big cuts in the safety net when so
many Americans are in desperate need? As the haggling over
raising the legal limit on the federal government’s debt
reaches a climax, the feeble state of the economy is making
the budgetary trade-offs involved ever less appealing.
Take food stamps, a programme designed to ensure that
poor Americans have enough to eat, which is seen by many
Republicans as unsustainable and by many Democrats as
untouchable. Participation has soared since the recession
began (see chart). By April it had reached almost 45m, or
one in seven Americans. The cost, naturally, has soared
too, from $35 billion in 2008 to $65 billion last year. And
the Department of Agriculture, which administers the
scheme, reckons only two-thirds of those who are eligible
have signed up.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives want
to rein in the programme’s runaway growth. In their budget
outline for next year they proposed cutting the amount of
money to be spent on food stamps by roughly a fifth from
2015. Moreover, instead of being a federal entitlement,
available to all Americans who meet the eligibility
criteria irrespective of the cost, the programme would
become a “block grant” to the states, which would receive a
fixed amount to spend each year, irrespective of demand.
The House has also voted to cut a separate
health-and-nutrition scheme for poor pregnant women,
infants and children, known as WIC, by 11%. (The Senate,
controlled by the Democrats, is unlikely to approve either
Advocates for the poor consider such cuts
unconscionable. Food stamps, they argue, are far from
lavish. Only those with incomes of 130% of the poverty
level or less are eligible for them. The amount each person
receives depends on their income, assets and family size,
but the average benefit is $133 a month and the maximum,
for an individual with no income at all, is $200. Those
sums are due to fall soon, when a temporary boost expires.
Even the current package is meagre. Melissa Nieves, a
recipient in New York, says she compares costs at five
different supermarkets, assiduously collects coupons, eats
mainly cheap, starchy foods, and still runs out of money a
week or ten days before the end of the month.
It is also hard to argue that food-stamp recipients are
undeserving. About half of them are children, and another
8% are elderly. Only 14% of food-stamp households have
incomes above the poverty line; 41% have incomes of half
that level or less, and 18% have no income at all. The
average participating family has only $101 in savings or
valuables. Less than a tenth of recipients also receive
cash payments from the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families programme (TANF), the reformed version of welfare;
roughly a third get at least some income from wages.
Spending on food stamps has risen so quickly because,
unusually, almost all the needy are automatically and
indefinitely eligible for them. Unemployment benefits last
for a maximum of 99 weeks at the moment, and that is due to
fall to six months from next year. No one knows exactly how
many people have exhausted their allotment, as the
government does not attempt to count them. But almost half
of the 14m unemployed have been out of a job for six months
or more, and so would no longer qualify for benefits under
the rules that will apply from January 1st.
Medicaid, America’s main health-care scheme for the
poor, does not cover childless adults in most states, no
matter how destitute they are. Housing assistance is not an
entitlement, and only a small fraction of those who qualify
for it actually receive it. The food-stamp programme has a
rule limiting able-bodied, childless adults to three months
on food stamps every three years—but it is suspended at
times of high unemployment, leaving only recent immigrants
and those convicted of drug offences to go hungry.
Stacy Dean of the Centre for Budget and Policy
Priorities (CBPP), a think-tank, argues that the rapid
growth of food stamps in recent years is a sign that they
are working as intended, responding promptly to hard
economic times. In contrast, she points out, block-grant
programmes grow much more slowly when times are tough,
since funding for them does not increase in line with
demand. Food-stamp participation rose by 45% between
December 2007 and December 2009, CBPP calculates, while the
number of families receiving cash grants under TANF, a
block-grant scheme, rose by just 13%.
Food stamps also help stimulate the economy more than
other forms of government spending, points out Jim Weill of
Food Research and Action Centre, a charity, since their
recipients are so poor that they tend to spend them
immediately. When Moody’s Analytics assessed different
forms of stimulus, it found that food stamps were the most
effective, increasing economic activity by $1.73 for every
dollar spent. Unemployment insurance came in second, at
$1.62, whereas most tax cuts yielded a dollar or less. All
the talk in Washington these days, however, is of
cutbacks—even for the hungry.
Foodbank Fund Ready for Second Successful
The Idaho Food Bank Fund will accept grant applications
between July 1 and July 31. Any Idaho 501(c) (3)
organization that provides hunger relief is eligible. This
includes grants for emergency food purchases, assistance to
expand capacities and funding for hunger-relief services
Grants will be reviewed in August and September, and
applicants advised when the process is
The Idaho Food Bank Fund was established by the 2009
Legislature as a cooperative effort between three
well-respected statewide Idaho nonprofit organizations: The
Idaho Foodbank, Community Action Partnership Association of
Idaho and Catholic Charities of Idaho. The donation
opportunity was on the Idaho State Income Tax Form 40,
which allowed taxpayers to designate a dollar amount for
During the Idaho Food Bank Fund’s first year, in 2010,
generous taxpayers provided $78,100 to 26 nonprofit
recipients. The hunger-relief grants ranged from Post Falls
to Wendell and included:
$5,000 for a snack program at Oasis Worship and Food
Center in Caldwell
$3,200 to the Post Falls Food Bank to help fund fuel
and electricity for food collection
$1,500 for help with food purchases at the Community
Kitchen in Idaho Falls.
Applicants are not required to have any connection
with Community Action Partnership, Catholic Charities or
The Idaho Foodbank.
For more information about the grants email email@example.com
. To learn more about
the fund and view the public service announcement go to
Feeding Kids When
Parents, Schools Can't
July 14, 2011
Cobb County, Georgia (CNN) -- For many,
summer means vacation, sports, camping or just time off to
relax, but not for millions of kids living in poverty in
the United States. There are few camps or beach trips for
them, and sometimes not even three meals a day.
During the school year, public schools provide breakfast
and lunch to millions of students in the United States. But
when summer arrives, parents struggling to feed their
children can no longer rely on those meals.
More than 21 million children receive free or
reduced-price lunches at school. But in the summer, the
number of kids participating in food programs drops to
fewer than 3 million, despite efforts to raise awareness
and increase community support, the U.S. Department of
To help fill that gap, one community in suburban Atlanta
is delivering food -- and hope -- in brown paper bags.
Must Ministries is an organization in Cobb County, near
Atlanta, that provides food, clothing and assistance to
families in need. During the summer, volunteers pack
hundreds of bag lunches for some of the nearly 46,000 kids
in the county who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals
during the school year.
When she started as a volunteer 11 years ago, Must
Ministries coordinator Paula Rigsby said they made 200
lunches every Friday. Now, they prepare up to 700 every
day, and many parents rely on the help.
"During the school year, they do not have to worry about
feeding their children during the day," Rigsby said.
"Feeding your own children in the summer time can be a
Stephanie Bautista, mother of four, is grateful for the
help. Without free lunches for her kids, she said, "I would
have to go find something for them, or sacrifice something
that I would want ... for my kids to eat. So it does help
The people who Rigsby serves have been hurt by the tough
"The way jobs are right now, it's too low," said Carla
Rojas, mother of three. "Sometimes my husband works, but
sometimes he doesn't. This help allows us to save money by
getting food for our children."
Rigsby has noticed a change as well.
"We see a lot more fathers present that we have never
seen before," she said. "Usually the fathers never come;
it's the mothers that we see. Now the mothers have gone to
work, either to baby-sit or clean, and it's the fathers
walking to the children in the stop."
Such hardships are felt not just in this Atlanta suburb,
but nationwide. The number of kids who qualify for free or
reduced-price meals is growing; it's up nearly 6% in the
past three years. Families of four with an annual household
income less than $28,000 are eligible for the school lunch
In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed
new rules to strengthen school breakfast and lunch
nutrition standards. It would be the first change to school
lunch standards in 15 years and would be part of the Obama
administration's attempt to curb childhood obesity. The
rules would increase the availability of fruits,
vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk while cutting the
amount of sodium and saturated fat. It would reduce the
availability of traditional school lunch staples such as
pizza and french fries.
Advocates say adequate nutrition can lead children to
better lifelong eating habits and improved behavior and
focus in school.
But improvements during the school years don't help
families during the summer.
According to the National Poverty Center, children
represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the
United States. They are 25% of the total population, but
35% of the poor population. In 2008, more than 15 million
children -- 1 in every 5 -- lived in poverty.
"The lack of good nutrition is just one of the many
issues children in poverty have to deal with," said Eric
Jensen, author of "Teaching With Poverty in Mind." "These
kids move around a lot, don't have much adult supervision
or routine in their lives, and sometimes suffer from
mistreatment or abuse. So it's no wonder studies have shown
that low-income students tend to be low performers in
So while providing food is a good start, it's not the
only thing these kids need.
"Hope is the main tool, giving our kids a sense of hope,
and belief that they can do it," said Christa Flood, a
school administrator from Charlotte, North Carolina. "Once
you transform their minds, they act in a different
Ultimately, it's important to feed kids' minds and
bodies, educators said. Jensen said efforts like the summer
lunch program help reduce children's stress levels, which
is critical in helping them learn.
That's why on any given summer day,
you can find Paula Rigsby and her fellow volunteers trying
to give local kids a boost -- one lunch at a time.
Idaho's Surplus Exceeds
John Miller, Associated
July 13, 2011
A healthy share of Idaho’s 2011 budget surplus will go
to offset taxes residents pay on food, but programs for the
poor and disabled that saw a $108 million reduction in
state and federal funding during the last Legislature won’t
The plan Gov. Butch Otter announced Tuesday for the
extra revenue Idaho collected during the 12 months that
ended June 30 is already getting criticism from minority
Democrats and one Republican budget writer, Sen. Dean
In all, Idaho took in $2.44 billion, up 7.9 percent from
2010 as hiring accelerated, more businesses turned a
post-recession profit, and the public resumed buying.
Despite the positive revenue, Otter said he’s taking a
cautious approach as Idaho tries to emerge from the
recession. In recent months, job growth has stagnated, and
the federal government’s current talks over raising the
debt ceiling are creating more uncertainty.
“We’re a long way from out of the woods,” Otter said in
a prepared statement. “You need to remember that this is
about half a billion dollars less than we had in my first
year as governor” in 2007.
Most of the extra 2011 cash, some $68 million, must be
diverted to public schools and community colleges to
fulfill commitments to the federal government to maintain
Combined with $51 million from the federal government to
preserve teachers’ jobs since last year, Idaho has nearly
restored the $128 million fiscal 2010 cut to public
About $15 million will go to expand the grocery tax
credit, Otter said.
Following a 2008 legislative compromise, Idaho’s grocery
tax credit has been lifted to $70 annually for low-income
residents and $50 for others.
The 2011 Legislature wanted to delay expansion, citing
uncertain budgets, but Otter’s decision to boost the credit
will provide an additional $10 back on nearly everybody’s
Otter could have called a special session to ask
legislators to partially restore Medicaid, the health
insurance program for the poor and disabled but indicated
he felt the grocery tax credit was the best way to spend
“That’s one of the promises we made long ago, and we’ve
desperately tried to keep it,” Otter said.
Cameron, co-chairman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations
Committee, said he’d have preferred to partially restore
Department of Health and Welfare programs like Medicaid
because that would have leveraged federal matching funds of
roughly $40 million, restoring about half the money the
program is losing.
“My preference would be either restoring some of the
current programs we have cut,” Cameron said. “Health and
Welfare would be a high priority.”
Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls and an architect of
this year’s Medicaid changes, didn’t return a phone
But House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said
institutionalizing those cuts when money is available will
ripple throughout the system: higher prison costs, busier
emergency rooms, more human pain.
“The consequence of that is we’re going to pay more in
the out years,” Rusche said.
In Tuesday’s announcement, Otter conceded he lost a $100
wager — a “silly bet,” he called it in the statement — with
former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus that final collections
for fiscal year 2011 would be closer to a forecast of $2.43
billion by former Idaho chief economist Mike Ferguson than
Otter’s austere $2.29 billion estimate.
Ferguson, who retired in 2010 after more than 25 years
as Idaho’s chief economic prognosticator, said Tuesday he
was pleased Idaho’s revenue exceeded even his own
That’s after Ferguson found himself at the center of a
2010 budget controversy as conservative legislators, wary
that the recession would linger, dismissed his projections
as too rosy and adopted more austere figures — with the
budget cut to match. Some of “the cuts that were made now
may not have been necessary,” Ferguson said.
A continued revenue recovery will put conservative Idaho
legislators in an unusual, and maybe even uncomfortable,
spot: figuring out what to do with surpluses that could top
$100 million as early as next July, even if revenue grows
from actual 2011 collections at just the forecast 3 percent
Wayne Hammon, Otter’s budget chief, said the governor
has two priorities for additional cash: Bolstering
education and refilling rainy day reserves drained from
$350 million to nearly nothing over the past three
“Everyone recognizes that without a hefty rainy day
account, the last three years would have been much more
difficult,” Hammon said.
Others, too, have their eye on incoming cash. House
Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, last year floated a
proposal to reduce Idaho’s corporate and individual income
tax rates, and said the clamor could become louder as
revenue growth resumes.
“We need to backfill some of the needs of education,”
said Moyle. “And then give it back to the taxpayers.”
Secretary Highlights School
Meal Improvements to National School
USDA Press Release
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 12, 2011 – Agriculture Deputy
Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today highlighted the importance of
the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and announced the findings of
USDA's first Farm to School report during the 2011 School
Nutrition Association national convention. Merrigan delivered
remarks to thousands of school nutrition professionals at the
three-day event which provided an opportunity to discuss the
Obama administration's efforts to improve the health and
nutrition of meals served through the National School Lunch and
"By working closely with school nutrition professionals, the
Obama Administration is promoting initiatives that provide kids
with access to nutritious foods and information to teach them
healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime" said Merrigan.
"Farm to school programs are a great way to bring more fresh,
local produce into school cafeterias and support local farmers
as well. Many schools are also using Farm to School programs to
teach students where their food comes from through nutrition
A USDA Farm to School Team was established late in 2009 as a
result of discussions within the department-wide Know Your
Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which seeks to create new
economic opportunities by promoting local and regional food
systems that help keep wealth in rural communities. These
discussions focused on the need to develop strategies to
enhance market opportunities for local farmers as well as the
need to better connect farmers with consumers and thereby
increase public understanding of American agriculture. Farm to
School was quickly identified as a strategy that could
potentially contribute to both goals.
During 2010, the team visited 15 school districts across the
country that were involved in farm to school related activities
in varying capacities, reviewed resource materials,
participated in national and regional conferences and consulted
with other organizations that worked with the farm to school
community. The report published today summarizes the
observations of these activities. This report also provides
suggestions for further action by USDA to support schools in
obtaining fresh and healthy food from their local and regional
food systems. USDA's Farm to School Team found that communities
are passionate about providing locally grown products to
schools and work hard to overcome challenges such as the
limited availability of local agricultural products and
difficulties with processing and storage. For more information
or to view the report, please visit the USDA Farm to School
website at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/F2S/.
Merrigan also announced that USDA's Agricultural Marketing
Service (AMS) and Food Nutrition Service (FNS) will conduct a
pilot for acquiring fresh fruits and vegetables to build on
farm-to-school programs in Florida and Michigan. The pilot will
use commercial distribution models already in place and allow
schools to obtain locally grown produce. Additionally, USDA's
National Agricultural Library published a new resource titled
'Farm to School: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography. To view
the bibliography, please visit the USDA Farm to School website
With one in every three children in America at risk for
preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart
disease due to overweight and obesity, school nutrition
improvements are an investment in improving our children's
future and are critical to helping them maintain optimal
health, she said. School meals currently reach nearly 32
million children each school day nationwide, and many children
consume as many as half their daily calories at school.
Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy,
Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December
2010. The legislation, which reauthorized the Child Nutrition
programs, will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years,
the chance to make real reforms to the school meals programs
improve the nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of
children, and help a new generation win the future by having
healthier lives. The Act is the legislative centerpiece of the
Let's Move! initiative.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition
assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four
Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together
to form a national safety net against hunger. The National
School Lunch and School Breakfast programs provide
nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32
million school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known
as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more
than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are
Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding to
Create Jobs, Economic Opportunity and Strengthen Rural
Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force (Sage Community Resources)
USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack today announced the selection of 43 community-based
organizations to receive funding to promote economic growth and
the selection of six rural microenterprises for loans and
grants to support rural business development, create jobs and
strengthen local communities.
"A strong rural America and a strong agricultural industry
go hand in hand," said Vilsack. "These investments will bring
increased economic opportunity to rural residents and
communities. And they will help organizations expand job
opportunities across the nation, part of the Obama
Administration's effort to win the future."
The funding announced today is being provided through the
Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI) and the
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RCDI helps
community-based development organizations, federally recognized
Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in
low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to
obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants.
The grants are awarded to public or nonprofit intermediary
organizations. The funds are then provided to recipients, which
must be located in eligible rural areas. RCDI funding, much of
it regional in nature, underscores USDA's support of
locally-led regional strategies. Recipients under the Rural
Microentrepreneur Assistance Program are development
organizations that make loans to microenterprises and
microentrepreneurs and provide business-based training and
technical assistance grants to rural microborrowers.
For example, in Columbia, Md., Enterprise Community
Partners, Inc. was selected to receive a RCDI grant to provide
financial and technical assistance to 23 rural and tribal
organizations working to create and preserve affordable and
sustainable rural housing. Enterprise will leverage its
expertise in green building and energy-efficient housing
development to foster economic opportunity through staff
Of the more than $9.5 million in total funding Vilsack
announced today, more than $3 million is being provided for
Microentrepreneur assistance loans and grants (RMAP). For
example, the Eastern Maine Development Corporation in Bangor,
Maine was selected to receive a $500,000 loan and a $105,000
grant to assist rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises
in Hancock, Knox, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington
counties. The project is expected to save 90 jobs and create
Ida-Ore Planning & Development Association Inc., dba
Sage Community Resources: $65,300 to assess local needs and
gain access to locally produced foods.
Primary Nutrition Assistance Program Reaches Highest Accuracy
Rate in History of the Program: Improved
Administration Results in $356 Million Reduction in Incorrect
USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack today announced that the Department of Agriculture in
cooperation with state partners has improved payment accuracy
and program integrity in the nation's largest nutrition
assistance program. Vilsack commended selected states for their
excellence in administering the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. The
national average level of program payment accuracy for FY 2010
is (96.19 percent), the fourth consecutive year the program has
achieved a historically high rate. The accuracy rate for Fiscal
Year 2010 is at an all time high and underscores the
Administration's ongoing effort to make government more
accountable to the American people.
"The Obama administration has made it clear that we will
track down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency
and department across the federal government," said Vilsack.
"USDA and our state agency partners have done just that in
achieving historically high accuracy rates in SNAP and we will
continue to make improvements that protect taxpayer dollars
while putting healthy food on the table for struggling
individuals and families."
Under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, each state agency
is responsible for monitoring and improving its administration
of SNAP. The SNAP Quality Control System determines the
accuracy of the benefits authorized. The national payment error
rate was 3.81 percent in FY 2010, a record low. Without this
improvement, FY 2010 improper payments would have been $356
Working in collaboration with USDA, state agencies continue
to enhance SNAP program integrity even as demand has increased
in response to national economic conditions. This year, USDA is
investing in process improvement efforts that examine local
office processes and identify and implement efficiencies. The
department is also interested in funding projects that use
technology to achieve procedural changes, such as document
imaging, telephone interviews or web-based access to case
status information. Today's announcement proves that states'
efforts to ensure program integrity and improve their process
for administering SNAP are working.
SNAP benefits are essential to the nutrition and well-being
of one in seven people in our nation and also provide an
economic stimulus that strengthens communities. Research shows
that every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9.00
in economic activity. SNAP benefits move quickly into local
economies, with 97 percent of SNAP benefits redeemed within a
month. It is estimated that at least 8,900 full-time equivalent
jobs are created from $1 billion of SNAP benefits.
USDA provides monetary incentives to the seven states with
the best payment accuracy rates and the three states with the
most improved payment accuracy, while $6 million is awarded
among the four states with the lowest negative error rates and
the most improve negative error rates. For the second straight
year, states overall have improved their negative error rates
(a measure of denials, terminations, and suspensions). Two
states, Texas and Illinois, are being recognized for both best
payment accuracy rates and most improved accuracy rates.
The states below were recognized for their performance
Best Payment Accuracy Rate (figures represent the error rate
as a percentage)
South Dakota 1.31
Most Improved Accuracy Rate (figures represent the
improvement rate as a percentage)
Best Negative Error Rate
South Dakota 0.25
North Dakota 1.24
Most Improved Negative Error Rate (figures represent the
percentage point improvement)
District of Columbia 27.18
Food Desert Solution:
Peter Smith, Good
June 8, 2011
You’ve heard of food trucks and green carts. Now there’s a
building momentum around mobile supermarkets that can tackle
the country's food deserts.
Rick Schnieders grew up working in a little grocery store in
Iowa and worked for years with Sysco, the United States'
largest food distributor, until retiring a year and a half ago.
He admits that he doesn't play golf or own a boat, so he's
making the most out of retirement with a for-profit company
The mobile grocer started trucking in groceries in a 33-foot
long trailer—10 full bays with 200 supermarket items—in Santo
Domingo Pueblo, a Native American community in New Mexico. It’s
basically a beer trailer with added refrigeration. Shopping
there is sort of like walking through an outdoor grocery store,
albeit one with only two aisles and no chips, soda, or candy
"The trailer is the easy part," Schnieders told me. "The
rest of it becomes pretty complicated. You’ve got to find a
distributor. You’ve got to have a driver with a Commercial
Driver’s License. Just showing up in a community is not enough.
We’ve partnered with Johns Hopkins to do cooking classes and
events, so you do have to put a lot of pieces together.”
What also makes Mogro different from other mobile food banks
and grocers-on-wheels is that it stocks more than just fruits
and vegetables. Schnieders doesn't think there's a high enough
return on produce to make that venture economically
sustainable. In the long-run, perhaps the business could be a
model for filling in the gaps that make food deserts—access to
healthy affordable food.
"But the real reason we're doing this is because we love
this part of the country," he says. "We love the people. It’s
an absolute crying need. My wife and I have a biding interest
in food, agriculture, and nutrition. And we wanted to see if we
could make this work."
Mike Butts, Idaho Press
June 9, 2011
CANYON COUNTY — Kids in the Canyon County area can get free
lunches all summer vacation long.
But despite the availability of the meals and the bad
economy, not all children who may need the meals get them, the
director of a hunger task force based in Boise said.
The only requirements for getting the free lunches, and in
some cases breakfasts and dinners, are to eat the meals on site
and be between 1 and 18 years old. There are more than 60 free
lunch sites in the Canyon County area that serve meals on
Only 22 percent of kids in Idaho who participate in the free
or reduced cost lunch programs at public schools used the U.S
Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program last
July. That figure is down by almost 8 percent from the previous
“That's a real scary number for us,” Idaho Hunger Relief
Task Force Director Kathy Gardner said. “We are calling on
everyone in the state to play their part to increase summer
Royce Wright, a Caldwell pastor who helps operate the Canyon
County area Summer Feeding Program with 61 sites, said the
number of meals he served last year were down from the year
before. But he thinks that could be because of the bad weather
last summer and more families using other social safety net
programs for food.
For a list of free meal sites in Canyon County and the
surrounding area visit oasiswc.org and click on the Summer
Feeding Program link.
What people say about the Summer Food Service Program
“A lot of these children wouldn't get well-needed,
nutritious meals otherwise. There's definitely the children
that faithfully show up every day.”
Carla Soppe of Caldwell, who works for the Oasis Worship
& Food Center's Summer Feeding Program
“It's huge. These kids get off the bus and they're ready”
Terra Reddish, summer school reading aide for Roosevelt
Elementary in Nampa
“In the summertime our food bills (could) double, especially
because of lunch.”
Jackie Chapman, Nampa mother of four and user of the Summer
Food Service Program
Summer Food Service Program by the numbers
- 256,000: Meals served to Canyon County area children
last summer by the Oasis Summer Feeding Program
- 21,211: Low-income children in Idaho receiving summer
meals in July 2010
- 2.2 million: Children who participated nationwide in
the Summer Food Service Program at almost 35,000 sites in
- $357.9 million: Dollars Congress appropriated for the
Summer Feeding Service Program. The amount was $312.2
million in 2008.
How does the program work?
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses local
programs for meals, labor and equipment
- Sites are established based on nearby schools that have
50 percent or more students on free or reduced lunch
- Some local schools also have free lunch and breakfast
programs as part of their summer school operations. These
are open to the public.
- The lunches must contain two ounces of protein, one
ounce of grains, ¾ cup of fruits and vegetables and an
eight-ounce serving of milk, Wright said.
A few of the free lunch sites also serve breakfasts and
Adults may purchase the meals. At Oasis sites breakfasts are
$1.75 and lunches are $3.25
Participation in Summer Nutrition Programs
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Press
June 7, 2011
Washington, D.C. – June 7, 2011 – Participation in the
Summer Nutrition Programs continued to erode in summer 2010 as
recession-driven cuts in summer schools and youth programs led
to fewer sites that could offer summer meals. Since July 2008,
total participation nationwide in the Summer Nutrition Programs
has dropped by 90,000 children, according to Hunger
Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), an analysis by
the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
FRAC measures how well the Summer Nutrition Programs are
reaching children in need by comparing the number of low-income
children receiving summer meals to those receiving free and
reduced-price school meals during the normal school year. In
July 2010, only 15 children received Summer Nutrition for every
100 low-income students who received lunch on an average day in
the 2009-2010 school year, a significant decrease from 2009’s
ratio of 16:100.
Continuing fallout from the Great Recession contributed to the
worsening reach of summer food. While more children used the
regular school year food programs, budget cuts in many states
caused school districts to eliminate or reduce their summer
programs. The decrease in programs where food can be served
makes it more difficult for the Summer Nutrition Programs to
respond to children’s need.
“While participation in other federal nutrition programs
grew rapidly because of the recession, participation in the
Summer Nutrition Programs continued to slide. It’s time to
reverse this trend. This is a time for action,” said Jim Weill,
president of the Food Research and Action Center.
The report noted that some states managed to increase
participation in summer meals. Arizona led the way with a 44.6
percent increase in the number of children from July 2009 to
July 2010. Arkansas (36.5 percent), Utah (23.9 percent),
Wyoming (17.6 percent) and Tennessee (14.9 percent) also had
large increases in participation.
“Several states managed to increase participation,
demonstrating that there are inherent programmatic strengths on
which states can build,” said Crystal FitzSimons, FRAC’s
director of school and out-of-school-time programs.
Action Needed to Feed Hungry Children in the
In the report, FRAC outlined a series of opportunities at the
federal, state, and local level to improve participation in the
Summer Nutrition Programs:
- At the federal level, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture is providing important leadership with the
first-ever National Summer Food Service Program Week: “Food
That’s In, When School Is Out.” This week-long campaign
(June 6 – 10) aims to raise awareness about the risk of
hunger low-income children face during the summer months
and the benefits of summer food and other programs that can
make sure children have access to nutritious food year
- Nonprofits and schools can embrace new provisions
included in the 2010 child nutrition reauthorization
law—the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act—that support summer
food expansion and outreach efforts.
- USDA’s two 2010 Summer Food demonstration projects have
shown a significant impact on participation and should be
replicated. Federal funding was provided to encourage
sponsors in Arkansas to operate Summer Food for more days
across the summer and to provide activities at sites in
Mississippi; participation grew in both states as a
- Some state agencies, such as the Arizona Department of
Education, have taken aggressive steps to grow the
program—recruiting more sponsors and sites and conducting
outreach to families. More states should follow their
- Schools need to recommit to meeting the nutritional
needs of their students during the summer, even if they
scale back summer school.
“The Summer Nutrition Programs are a vital part of our
nation’s nutrition safety net. There is a foundation on which
we can build and which we cannot afford to weaken further,”
said FitzSimons. “It’s not too late to make a difference for
this summer and for the next.”
The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food
Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, should
be filling the food gap for low-income children who rely on
school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep
hunger at bay. Through these programs, children (ages 18 and
under) can receive free meals at participating summer sites at
schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits.
USDA Presents Healthier
US School Challenge Honors to 154 Dallas Schools for Excellence
in Nutrition and Fitness USDA Press Release
DALLAS, May 25, 2011 -- USDA Deputy Under Secretary for
Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Janey Thornton today
recognized 154 Dallas schools for their efforts to expand
nutrition and physical activity opportunities, the largest
group of honorees from one district to date. USDA and its
partners, the National Football League and the National Dairy
Council, joined students, teachers, foodservice professionals,
and community leaders for the HealthierUS School
Challenge celebration. This is the largest number
of awards ever presented to a single school district and the
state of Texas leads the nation in the highest number of
"HealthierUS Schools have taken an active role in combating
childhood obesity by incorporating healthier menus and
introducing more physical activities during the school day,"
said Thornton. "The strong foundation these schools have built
supports a clear path for our nation's young people to win the
The Challenge and Fuel Up to Play 60 are key components of
First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's
Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a
generation. Last year, the First Lady and USDA called on
stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a
year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that.
As of May 9, 1,001 schools are certified, well on the way
toward the goal of 1,250 schools in this school year. Schools
participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for
food they serve at their schools, agree to offer nutrition
education and to provide opportunities for physical activity.
Other Let's Move! child nutrition initiatives include Fuel
Up to Play 60, a customizable in-school program
that empowers youth in more than 70,000 schools to improve
nutrition and physical activity at their school and for their
own health. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods
(including low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and
whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical
activity every day.
USDA recently announced that it will be investing $5.5
million in grants with approximately $2.5 million set aside to
provide non-competitive grants (up to $50,000) to each State
Agency that commits to specific strategies to increase the
number of HealthierUS School Challenge applications submitted
for approval. Up to $350,000 may be requested to include both
competitive and non-competitive grants.
"First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA believe that schools can
take a leadership role in helping students learn to make
healthier eating and active lifestyle choices for better
health," said Janey Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for
Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. "Today, we honor their
commitment and encourage other schools to emulate their efforts
in fostering these environments."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition
assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four
Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together
to form a national safety net against hunger. The National
School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs provide
nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32
million school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known
as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more
than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are
New USDA Rule
Encourages the Purchase of
Products for Critical Nutrition
USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011 – Today,
Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced that
USDA's child nutrition programs are implementing new rules
designed to encourage use of local farm products in school
meals. The final rule, published in the Federal Register, will
let schools and other providers give preference to unprocessed
locally grown and locally raised agricultural products as they
purchase food for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast,
Special Milk, Child and Adult Care, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable,
and Summer Food Service programs. The rule is part of the
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 signed into law by
President Obama and one of the key provisions to bolster farm
to school programs across the country.
"This rule is an important milestone that will help
ensure that our children have access to fresh produce and
other agricultural products," said Agriculture Under
Secretary Kevin Concannon. "It will also give a much-needed
boost to local farmers and agricultural producers."
The rule supports USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your
Food' initiative which emphasizes the need for a
fundamental and critical reconnection between producers and
consumers. The effort builds on the 2008 Farm Bill, which
provides for increases and flexibility for USDA programs in
an effort to revitalize rural economies by supporting local
and regional food systems. 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your
Food' is helping to break down barriers that keep local
food systems from thriving, create new opportunities for
farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities, and
expand access to healthy food throughout the country. USDA
expects consumer demand for locally grown food in the U.S.
to rise from an estimated $4 billion in 2002 to as much as
$7 billion by 2012.
The Farm to School component of this effort is designed
to help connect schools with regional or local farms in
order to serve healthy meals using locally-sourced products
in their cafeterias. USDA currently is sending teams out to
select school districts to work on farm to school issues.
Some of these programs also incorporate nutrition-based
studies, as well as food-learning opportunities such as
farm visits, gardening, cooking, and composting
Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress
and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010.
This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition
programs, including the National School Lunch Program and
the Summer Food Service Program. It will allow USDA, for
the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real
reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by
improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for
millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is
the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's
Let's Move! Initiative.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15
nutrition assistance programs including the Summer Food
Service Program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program; the National School Lunch Program; the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and
Children; and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Together these programs make up the federal nutrition
safety net. USDA administers these programs in partnership
with state and local agencies and works with faith and
community-based organizations to ensure that nutrition
assistance is available to those in need.
Idaho's Deepening Food Stamp
Times News, editorial
The number of Idahoans who now depend on food stamps
isn’t just high — it’s scary. According to the Wall Street
Journal, the head count of Idahoans taking food stamps has
climbed every month since October 2007, hitting 223,347 in
December. Back in 2007, 87,232 people got food coupons.
Let’s put that into context: 223,347 is a number
equivalent to 14 percent of Idaho’s population; that’s more
people than live in Boise.
The growth in food stamp use is so dramatic that Idaho’s
major supermarket chains say they’re having trouble
handling all the people who come in to restock their
pantries on the first of the month.
The latest food stamp numbers have been known for
months. We wonder why they apparently weren’t considered by
the Legislature when it decided to suspend the annual
increase in the grocery tax credit and slash Medicare by
“This is a pick-you-up-by-the-bootstraps type of state,
which is why the food-stamp participation has been low,”
Rose Andueza, program manager of Idaho’s Division of
Welfare, told the Wall Street Journal. “But I think now
people have just run out of options.”
Idaho’s economy has fallen more steeply than most
states’ as two mainstays, technology and construction,
nosedived. As a result, food stamps in the state, which
typically bristles at federal programs, have drawn broad
political support. Last June, Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch”
Otter suspended for at least one year a federal provision
that blocked people with assets such as a boat from
eligibility for food stamps.
Officials see no letup in the need for food assistance
until Idaho’s economy rebounds, and that isn’t expected
until 2013 or 2014, according to Donald Holley, an
economics professor at Boise State University. The Idaho
Foodbank plans to give out 10 million pounds of food in the
fiscal year that began July 1, double what it distributed
in fiscal 2007.
Which leads us to wonder why the recently adjourned
first session of the 61st Idaho Legislature was far more
interested in tax breaks for the private sector than in
helping Idaho families.
Two-fifths of Idaho students live in families with low
enough incomes that they qualify for free or reduced-price
school lunches. In the Bliss School District, it’s 71
percent. At Shoshone, it’s 67 percent. At Hansen, it’s 66
percent. And in Glenns Ferry, it’s 63 percent.
In order to receive food stamps in Idaho, a family of
four can have a household income no more than $2,389 a
month. For a single wage-earner, that works out to an
hourly salary for $14.93 an hour.
But according to the Idaho Department of Labor, the
average entry level wage in the eight counties of
south-central Idaho is $8.67 an hour. The median wage is
$13.83 an hour.
Folks, we don’t have just an economic emergency in
Idaho. We have a human crisis.
Before Idahoans talk about any other public policy
issues — schools, health care, higher education,
corrections — they need to discuss families having enough
to feed their kids.
USDA Announces Summer
Food Program Changes to Expand Nutrition
Assistance for Kids in Need
USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011: Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin
Concannon today announced that more low-income kids will have
access to nutrition assistance when school is out and during
critical gap periods. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service
provided waivers to simplify existing regulations making it
easier to provide critical meals through the Summer Food
Service Program (SFSP). The changes will expand and enhance the
ability of the SFSP to provide nutritious meals and snacks to
children in low-income areas during the summer months and long
vacation periods for schools on year-round schedules.
"When it comes to our kids, we must do everything we can to
provide them with the nutrition they need to grow up and win
the future," Concannon said. "The changes we have made to the
Summer Food Service Program will improve program efficiency and
start to reduce unnecessary barriers for participation so that
local SFSP sponsors who are on the frontlines of ending
childhood hunger can provide nutrition assistance to those in
The waivers announced today:
- Eliminate time restrictions between meal services,
giving sponsors added flexibility. Sponsors will no longer
be required to ensure that specific time periods elapse
between meals or snacks when they schedule meal services at
- Extend the "Offer Versus Serve" option to all sites,
replacing the requirement that meals be provided as a unit
with an alternative that allows children to decline food
items they do not intend to eat. This option has been
successfully used by schools to help reduce plate waste and
food costs in the school meals programs, and it has been
available to school food authority sponsors operating
- Simplify requirements to conduct site visits during the
first week of meal service operations for sites in good
standing. This change relieves sponsors of the requirement
to visit sites that have already demonstrated success in
the program, so that they can target their resources to new
sites and those that need additional oversight.
The SFSP delivers nutrition assistance to about 3 million
children at sponsored sites which include schools, government
agencies, residential and non-residential camps and faith-based
organizations. The SFSP served nearly 134 million meals at
eligible sites in 2010. In the near future, USDA's Food and
Nutrition Service will issue additional waivers that will ease
application rules for experienced sponsors in good standing,
and expand meal site options. FNS will also provide guidance to
highlight flexibilities that already exist at the state level
to simplify and improve the delivery of nutrition assistance to
low-income children during the summer months.
Simplifying SFSP regulations is part of a broader effort to
feed more hungry children during gap periods when schools are
not in session. Let's Move Faith and Communities is working
with partners on the ground to host new summer feeding program
sites at congregations or neighborhood organizations.
Additionally, USDA also announced pilot projects to develop and
test new ways to feed low-income children and reduce their risk
of hunger during the summer months. Those pilots include the
Summer Delivery and Food Backpack Projects which will operate
in six states, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for
Children Demonstration projects in Missouri, the Extending
Length of Operation Incentive Project in Arkansas, and the
Activity Incentive Project in Mississippi.
Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy,
Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation authorizes USDA's child
nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program,
the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the
Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Special Supplemental
Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act
allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to
make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by
improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for
millions of children, and help a new generation win the future
by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is
the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's
Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a
Agriculture Takes off in the Treasure Valley
March 31, 2011
Josie Erskine owns Peaceful Belly Farm, which has offered a
CSA, or community-supported agriculture, for eight years.
It’s one of the oldest CSAs in the area, and part of an
expanding trend of people wanting to eat food grown close to
home, during this Year of Idaho Food.
Subscriptions may seem pricey at first, Erskine said. They
typically cost about $420 for 18 to 20 weeks — or about $21 to
$23 a week.
But CSA dollars stretch further than they do at local
markets for people who buy organic a la carte, said Erskine. A
CSA subscription also saves a subscriber labor, water and
fertilizer that would be required to grow the wide variety of
produce by CSAs.
Here are some local programs. One may be a match for
Why it’s cool: Marty Camberlango has been running this small
CSA for seven years. He’s known for his salad mix, fingerling
potatoes and boiling onions, like cippolinis and pearls. If you
love spuds and kale, City Gardens may be a good choice. During
the height of the season, subscribers often get as many of
these as they want.
The details: City Gardens offers a spring and a summer
program. The spring program starts the first or second week of
May and lasts eight weeks. The summer program starts when the
spring program ends and lasts eight weeks.
Cost: $225 per eight-week program. Subscribers pick up their
goods in Garden City.
Spring vs. summer: Camberlango recommends spring. “It’s a
lot of stuff you’re not used to — kale, beets, chard — so if
you really want to get into eating seasonally, you have to
learn to eat this stuff. Cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer
Read your green: Camberlango and Katie Painter, head of
Global Gardens, have a new blog where they share ways to use
CSA produce. Find the blog at castironidaho.com.
Don’t miss: A brussels sprouts and spinach-laden recipe for
winter macaroni and cheese.
Contact: 713-1675 and Facebook, City Gardens Garden
DRAGGIN’ WING FARM
Why it’s cool: It’s an option for people who love flowers as
much as vegetables.
Carrie Jones offers farm-fresh bouquets (Western favorites
like sunflowers, rudbeckia, cleome, yarrow, zinnias) and
vegetables for home food preservation and canning: pickling
cucumbers, paste tomatoes, green beans, basil and dill.
The details: Subscribers get a bouquet once a week for $11
per week, starting mid-June. Prices for vegetables vary,
depending on available quantities. Pick-ups in the Collister
neighborhood and at Capital City Public Market.
Contact: 440-8406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EARTHLY DELIGHTS FARM
Why it’s cool: This year, said Casey O’Leary, the farm is
offering a CSA half-share for light eaters or those who want to
supplement their own gardens. Earthly Delights also offers bike
delivery service for a fee within a certain service area.
The farm also offers an eight-week, hands-on, organic
gardening class beginning April 21. The CSA continues to
thrive, but O’Leary said the trend is people wanting to grow
their own greens. Earthly Delights wants to evolve with that
trend and offer its expertise.
The details: The subscription begins the third week of May
and lasts 18 weeks, usually until the end of September.
Cost: $468 for the season ($234 for the half-share). Sign up
by May 1.
Contact: 284-3712 or email@example.com.
Why it’s cool: Evenstar, owned by the Hasselblad family, is
the new kid on the block. This is your chance to help a new CSA
get off the ground.
Isaac Hasselblad said they’re specializing in many heirloom
varieties, not just tomatoes, but broccoli and more.
The details: The program begins in late May and lasts into
early October. Full and half shares are available.
Cost: $375 full share, $225 half share. Subscribers will
pick up their produce at sites TBA. Sign up by May 1.
Contact: 333-9637, or check out the farm’s blog,
Why it’s cool: Farmers are members of the local refugee
community. One hundred percent of your payment supports their
Global Gardens also accepts food stamps, said director Katie
The farmers, from countries including Somalia, Burundi and
Congo, grow the expected garden offerings like cucumbers and
tomatoes, but also items you won’t find elsewhere, like
amaranth and collard greens.
The details: The program starts in June and lasts 18 weeks.
There will be two local pick-up sites.
Cost: The season is $415.
Contact: 336-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORNING OWL FARM
Why it’s cool: Mary Rohlfing at Morning Owl offers lots of
options. A program called “The Next Level” is a year-round
service for those who want to commit to eating local produce,
meats and eggs, but don’t have time to source everything
This program does the work. And, like other Morning Owl
programs, brings the food to your door. Sign up for the rest of
the year by April 15.
The details: The Next Level costs $2,425 for the year,
pro-rated for new enrollees.
The farm also offers the “Back to Basics” program, 16 home
deliveries from June to October, for $500.
The farm’s “Stand By” program, which lets you redeem
pre-purchased shares at Morning Owl’s Farm Market throughout
the season on your own schedule for items as diverse as pizza
dough and quiche, is sold out, but Rohlfing said it’s worth
getting on the waiting list.
She can usually work something out.
Contact: 850-6798 or email@example.com
Why it’s cool: The Erskine family grows a unique diversity
of vegetables — subscribers will likely get to sample six
different lettuces, six varieties of cucumbers, as many as 25
tomato varieties and more. This CSA also offers several
“add-on” options, including fruit from an Oregon farm, Idaho
wine and bouquets of flowers grown on the farm.
The details: The program begins mid-May and ends in October
for $420. There are four pick-up sites. The deadline to buy a
share is May 1.
Contact: 345-8003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
URBAN GREEN HARVEST
Why it’s cool: This CSA offers a quarter share for light
eaters and/or single people. The quarter share still offers
enough for veggie lovers, said owner Troy Amyx — typically five
items each week.
The details: The program begins mid-May and lasts 18 to 20
weeks, depending on the season. Subscribers pick up their
produce at the farm in West Boise, or can pay extra for
Cost: $500 for the full share, $300 for the half share, $200
for the quarter share. Sign up by May 1.
'Insecure about food?
The Idaho Foodbank
offers landmark of
local hunger story'
Idaho Press Tribune
March 25, 2011
TREASURE VALLEY — It may seem that “world hunger” is a
distant concept, but it can be more difficult to understand the
extent of need in the local area. Now. the group Feeding
America and the Idaho Foodbank have released a new study that
brings hunger to the front door of counties in the state.
Q: What is the “Map the Meal Gap”
A study on the food insecurity rates
at the county level and the typical cost of a meal. An analysis
of each county’s food-insecure population was used to determine
the county’s eligibility for federal nutrition assistance and
to measure the shortfall in household food budgets.
Q: What is food insecurity?
Limited or no access to nutritious
and safe foods to lead a healthy lifestyle. Some counties only
have access to local grocery stores, convenience stores or gas
stations while others, such as Canyon County, have Walmart,
Costco or WinCo to access lower-cost foods. Insecurity is
related to poverty or food-stamp dependence, but they are not
one in the same; unemployment is a better predictor of food
Q: If the meal gap is met ($5,438,199 in Canyon
County), will it end hunger?
No. The millions of dollars is the
food budget shortfall experienced by Idaho’s food-insecure
population. People often make tradeoffs between groceries and
utilities, medical care and other necessary resources. Even if
cash assistance was provided to all food-insecure people, it
would not solve hunger.
Q: What does this mean for you?
In previous studies, data on hunger
could only be defined at the state level; now the problem of
food-insecurity can be localized and recognized.
“It’s very natural for people to say, ‘Not in my county, not
in my neighborhood.’ It’s easy to ignore it. … Oftentimes we
look at the percentage of people in poverty or on food stamps
but that isn’t encompassing everyone who is facing hunger. … We
assume that if you are above the poverty level you must be
doing OK. But with the rise in gas, the cost of living, health
care and food, (the poverty level) isn’t the metric that we can
limit ourselves to. It’s bigger than that.”
— Karen Vauk, President and CEO, Idaho Foodbank
A bad choice, but the
others are worse
Idaho Statesman, editorial
March 22, 2011
Depending on how you think of it, the Idaho House voted to
raise taxes or delayed a tax break. Either way, the grocery tax
credit is most valuable to low-income Idahoans. Putting this
tax relief on hold for one year is an awful place to scrounge
up $15 million.
But the move mitigates the damage in the 2011-12 budget —
staving off some further program cuts that would have a
profound effect on low-income Idahoans.
Tax increase or not, there’s no debating it’s a
In 2008, lawmakers voted to incrementally increase this
income tax credit by $10 a year, in order to better reflect the
sales taxes paid on food. They also kept a structure that
provides a bigger break to Idaho’s poorest residents: $70 per
household member in 2010, compared to $50 per household member
for everyone else. (Seniors get an additional $20 per
The long-range — and now, evidently, longer-range — plan is
to max out the credits at $100 per person, regardless of
income, and $120 for seniors. But now, staring at a $92 million
shortfall, the House voted overwhelmingly to freeze the grocery
tax credits for 2011.
There’s no question that many Idahoans could put an extra
$10 to good use. Yes, it is disheartening to see Idaho balance
a challenging budget by reneging on promised tax relief. For
the past two sessions, we have urged the Legislature to stay
the course on grocery tax relief, saying in 2009 that the state
should not “nickel-and-dime people and go back on its
So, no, this isn’t our first choice.
Our first choice wouldn’t be the path of least political
resistance. We would prefer to see this money coming from some
of Idaho’s myriad (and, still, politically safe) $1.7 billion
in sales tax exemptions.
But it’s time to face reality. The 2011 Legislature
possesses no stomach for standing up to the special interests
that are skilled at procuring and protecting tax breaks. This
Legislature seems unwilling to consider any form of a tax
increase — hence targeting the grocery credit and painting the
move as deferred tax relief.
But this is still better than the bad alternatives. A $92
million shortfall will still force cuts to K-12 and higher
education — and a drastic, shortsighted $34 million cut in
state Medicaid funding that will affect the very people most
helped by the grocery tax credit. The state can’t afford to
make the shortfall even deeper, risking a further dismantling
of Medicaid and education.
So we’re reduced to choosing among bad options, the hallmark
of this budget crisis.
Surge in the West
Wall Street Journal
March 17, 2011
BOISE, Idaho—Before the recession hit, Idaho, Nevada and
Utah had some of the lowest rates of food stamp use in the
nation. It was a boom time in a region that has always prided
itself on self-reliance and a disdain for government
But since the recession began, these three states have the
fastest growth rates in the nation of participation in the
federal program, recently released figures show. Utah saw a
nearly 34% jump in food-stamp participation in December from
the same month a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department
of Agriculture. Nevada had the second fastest growth rate at
25%, followed by Idaho at 24%.
For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, those three states plus
Wyoming ranked among the top 10 in food-stamp growth, with
Idaho leading with a 42% jump from 2009, according to USDA
It's a striking shift for the area, reflecting a post-boom
fallout that has been compounded by the many new residents
drawn to the region by a hot economy who lacked a support
network when jobs disappeared.
"This is a pick-you-up-by-the-bootstraps type of state,
which is why the food-stamp participation has [historically]
been low," said Rose Andueza, program manager of Idaho's
Division of Welfare. "But I think now people have just run out
Mike Buster, 48 years old, said he lost his construction job
in the Boise suburb of Caldwell in 2008 and hasn't been able to
find stable work since. His wife, Bonnie, 42, said she tried to
work odd jobs, but has been limited by health problems,
including a heart condition.
After Mr. Buster's unemployment checks ran out, the couple
lost their house to foreclosure. In February 2010, they decided
to apply for food stamps for the first time. "We didn't have
enough food to last a week, so I looked at my wife and said,
'It's time,' " said Mr. Buster.
The number of Idahoans taking food stamps has climbed every
month since an October 2007 low, hitting 223,347, or about 14%
of Idaho's population, in December. In October 2007, 5.8% of
the population, or 87,232 people, received food stamps.
Nationally, the number of residents using food stamps—which
today take the form of debit cards—rose to 44.1 million, or
13.1% of the population, in December from 27.2 million, or 9%
of the population, in October 2007.
In 2006, by contrast, Idaho and Nevada ranked second-to-last
among states in food-stamp participation, with 53% of people
eligible for the assistance actually receiving it compared with
a national average of 67%.
The Western region as defined by the USDA—covering
California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho,
Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii—also ranked last with a
58% participation rate; the Midwest's was tops at 74%.
Comparisons on state participation rates aren't available
Officials attributed the rise in Western food-stamp usage to
a general push by states for increased access, such as by
expediting the process of determining if an applicant is
eligible, as well as the recession's impact. Idaho's
unemployment rate reached 9.7% in January, nearly triple the
3.4% rate in November 2007, the recent low point. Nationally,
the jobless rate stood at 8.9% in February, up from 4.7% in
November 2007. (State data are reported with a one-month
Nevada's unemployment led the nation at 14.2% in January,
compared with 3.9% in November 2006, while Utah—whose economy
has begun to rebound faster than the rest of the West—held at
7.6% in January up from 2.4% in November 2006.
Idaho's economy has fallen more steeply than most states' as
two mainstays, technology and construction, nosedived. As a
result, food stamps in the state, which typically bristles at
federal programs—it was first to pass a bill to block the
federal health-care overhaul—have drawn broad political
support. Last June, Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter
suspended for at least one year a federal provision that
blocked people with assets such as a boat from eligibility for
Officials see no letup in the need for food assistance until
Idaho's economy rebounds. That isn't expected until 2013 or
2014, said Donald Holley, an economics professor at Boise State
University. And the Idaho Foodbank plans to give out 10 million
pounds of food in the fiscal year that began July 1, double
what it distributed in fiscal 2007.
Michael and Valorie Bruesch said their monthly income of
about $2,200 from his unemployment checks and her disability
compensation is about $200 over the food-stamp eligibility
cutoff. So the couple, who live in Caldwell, lined up with more
than 150 others one recent frigid morning for a food handout at
the Oasis Worship Center in the city, to help save money so
they could keep making mortgage payments.
"When my unemployment runs out soon, we will qualify for
food stamps," said the 58-year-old Mr. Bruesch, who lost his
job as a medical-supply specialist 15 months ago.
Idaho House Revenue and
Taxation Committee Votes 13-3 to Suspend Next Grocery
Credit Increase: Estimated to Save $15
Betsy Z. Russell
March 15, 2011
The House Revenue & Taxation Committee has voted 13-3 to
suspend the next scheduled bump-up in Idaho's grocery tax
credit in the coming year, to save $15 million to help balance
next year's budget. The grocery tax credit is currently $50 for
most Idahoans and $70 for the low-income, with an additional
$20 for seniors over age 65; under the resolution introduced
and sent to the full House this morning, it'd stay at that
level next year rather than increasing by $10 in each category.
Gov. Butch Otter recommended the move in his budget proposal
for next year.
“It brings me no great pleasure to be before you today,”
Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, who presented the resolution, told
the committee. “This is a delay in an incremental increase.
It's not a step backwards,” he said.
Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, spoke out against the move. “I
think it's a tax increase, and I think it's the worst kind of a
tax increase on the people in this state who can least afford
it.” He said, “If we're going to raise taxes, I think there are
better ways to do it for people who can afford it.”
Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said, “We have known for some
time that we were going to have to make hard choices, and this
is really hard because everybody has to eat.” She said, “I
ain't gonna buy no more bacon, and I love bacon. So it's tough.
… But I don't see that we have a whole lot of choice. We've got
to cut somewhere.”
Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, said, “I feel like this
is a tax increase as well,” but he said he thought he could
“rationalize” it because “we've got the money, it's already in
the coffers, we're just returning it.” He said, “If we're going
to be forced into tax increases this better just be one of the
many that we have to vote on.”
Rev & Tax Chairman Dennis Lake corrected Barbieri. “It's
not a tax increase, we're just simply freezing it, we're
preventing a tax decrease from taking place,” Lake said.
“That's what we're doing.” In the 13-3 vote to both introduce
the resolution and send it directly to the full House, the
three “no” votes came from Reps. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries,
Bill Killen, D-Boise, and Burgoyne.
USDA Study Shows States
Providing Critical Nutrition Benefits to Those in Need: Idaho
comes in with a participation rate of 55% for the year of
To access the report, visit our
WASHINGTON DC, Feb. 2, 2011 - USDA today released the latest
report that measures each State's success in reaching children
and families eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP). While the national SNAP participation rate was
66 percent, Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2008,
reports state rates varied from an estimated low of 46 percent
to a high of 94 percent.
"The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing access
to nutrition assistance for those Americans in need," said
Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin
Concannon. "That's why we're committed to working with our
States to ensure everyone eligible for SNAP has access to this
critical nutrition program."
SNAP puts healthy food on the table for over 43 million
people each month, half of whom are children. Formerly known as
the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is largest of the domestic food
and nutrition assistance programs administered by USDA's Food
and Nutrition Service. Serving about 1 in 7 Americans over the
course of a year, SNAP is the cornerstone of America's
safety-net against hunger.
Overall, the report shows twenty States had rates that were
significantly higher than the national rate. Some States had
consistently high participation rates relative to other States
in all 3 fiscal years examined. In each year from 2006 to 2008,
the District of Columbia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan,
Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia had
significantly higher participation rates than two-thirds of the
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service has expanded outreach
efforts to reach those who are eligible, including underserved
populations like the working poor. According to the report,
participation among the eligible working poor was significantly
lower than the rate for all SNAP-eligible persons in a majority
"I commend the collective efforts made by the States to
increase SNAP participation, as it helps millions of families
access healthy food and live a more healthful lifestyle," said
Concannon. "Our hope is that all families in need seek these
essential benefits to help feed their loved ones throughout the
SNAP benefits, which are provided to recipients
electronically, also provide an economic stimulus that
strengthens communities. Research shows that every $5 in new
SNAP benefits generates as much as $9.00 in economic activity.
While SNAP benefits are administered by states, they are
federally funded and move quickly into local economies, with 97
percent of SNAP benefits redeemed within a month.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the
administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including
the child nutrition programs. Through the direct certification
process, all children participating in SNAP are automatically
enrolled in the national school meals programs.
Improving child nutrition is a focal point of the Healthy,
Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was
signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This
legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs,
including the Summer Food Service Program and the National
School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children
each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30
years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and
breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and
hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy,
Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First
Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move!
Congratulations to the
Boys and Girls Club of Ada County for Receiving a USDA Summer
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
Summer Food Service Program – in the middle of winter?
That question is a common one when we talk about the Summer
Food Service Program (SFSP). During the school year, many
children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch
through the School Breakfast and National
School Lunch Programs. What happens when school lets out?
Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning
process. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill
that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the
nutritious meals they need.
At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) we like to
celebrate the successes of our partners on the front lines of
the battle to end childhood hunger. Our staff in the Western
Regional Office are thrilled to share the winners of the 2010
Summer Sunshine Awards. These five recipients are
incredibly dedicated, passionate and innovative organizations
that worked especially hard to make the Summer Food
Service Program a success this past summer.
The University of Hawaii Maui College Upward Bound Program
is the recipient of the award for Integrating Nutrition
Education and Physical Activities at Sites. The
Upward Bound Program creatively integrated nutrition and
exercise into the program by teaching students how to plan and
cook healthy meals and by encouraging walking as the primary
mode of transportation. Students were actually
responsible for preparing their own breakfasts and dinners
every day (with some supervision, of course)!
The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Idaho has
won the award for Improving Nutritional Quality of Meals,
Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. The Boys
and Girls Club showed a commitment to offering fresh local
foods, filling vending machines with reduced-sugar and
lower-sodium products, and partnering with local farms to teach
participants about produce. Children in the program sampled
snacks, like red peppers and hummus, and took field trips to an
orchard nearby, which Nutrition Director Jennifer Aumeier says
“gave the children a deeper insight into where food comes from
and why local and organic foods are important.”
In Nevada, the Culinary Training Academy of North Las Vegas
has won for Increasing Participation and Community
Partnerships. Culinary Training Academy was dedicated to
increasing the number of sponsors and sites in the Las Vegas
community by forming partnerships with local organizations and
marketing the program through both print media and special
community events. Efforts included television interviews,
the distribution of 5,000 flyers, and community barbecues to
raise awareness of the program.
And, finally, there are two great programs in Portland,
Oregon, awarded for Service in Distinctive or
Rural/Underserved Communities: the Centennial School
District and the Yamhill Carlton Elementary Summer Lunch
Program. Centennial was able to reach more underserved
communities by partnering with housing and community
development organizations in the Portland Metro Area.
Children who couldn’t leave their apartment complexes due
to unsafe conditions, busy roads, or other reasons were at last
guaranteed access to nutritious food. Yamhill Carlton
showed its commitment to serving rural communities by
developing partnerships with community groups and offering
healthy foods in a safe, relaxing, and inviting
Congratulations to the winners and a huge thank you from us
all at FNS for the wonderful activities and programs you
provide to children during the summer months.