School Breakfast Programs – New Jersey

More than half of low-income children get breakfast in school in NJ, By Diane D’Amico, February 14, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Almost 268,000 low-income children in New Jersey got free or reduced-price breakfast in the last school year, a 6 percent increase from the year before, according to a national report. But breakfast is still not readily available to every child eligible to receive it.  The annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, shows New Jersey improved its national ranking from 23rd in 2014-15 to 19th in 2015-16…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

State’s public colleges see rise in hunger, homelessness, By Michael Levenson, January 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “The state’s colleges and universities are reporting that hunger and homelessness among students have increased over the past year, an alarming new disclosure that makes clear that many low-income students have far more to worry about than just exams and extracurricular activities.  The findings, released Tuesday, come from a survey of administrators at the 29 state colleges and universities, 24 of which operate their own food pantries or have partnerships with community food banks…”

SNAP Program and Online Shopping

Food stamp recipients will soon be able to order groceries online, By Maura Judkis, January 10, 2017, Washington Post: “Beginning this summer, some Americans who receive food assistance will have a new way to feed their families. The Agriculture Department said that it will test a program that allows people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, known as food stamps — to order groceries online through various retailers. The ability to shop online could bring healthful food into food deserts, low-income areas where fresh food is not readily available…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Wisconsin

  • 21K employed through FoodShare jobs program, 64K lost benefits, By Molly Beck, January 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “About 21,000 Wisconsin residents using food stamps have gained employment through a state program designed to connect recipients with jobs, Gov. Scott Walker announced during his annual State of the State address Tuesday.  That’s the number of FoodShare recipients who have gotten jobs through the state program that was created when lawmakers reinstated a requirement that able-bodied adults without children at home be employed in order to keep FoodShare benefits…”
  • Official: Food stamp drug tests would violate federal law, By Jason Stein, January 11, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to drug test some food stamp recipients violates federal law and cannot proceed without an act of Congress, a top appointee in the Obama administration says.  Wisconsin’s Republican governor has called on President-elect Donald Trump to act immediately on taking office to allow the Walker administration to start testing able-bodied recipients of Wisconsin’s Food Share program…”

Homelessness and Hunger in U.S. Cities

  • Homelessness declining in nation’s cities, but hunger is on the rise, By Octavio Blanco, December 14, 2016, CNN Money: “Even though homelessness in America’s cities continues to decline, food banks and pantries are still being stretched thin as the number of people seeking emergency food assistance climbs, according to a survey of mayors from 38 of the nation’s cities.  The number of people seeking emergency food assistance increased by an average of 2% in 2016, the United States Conference of Mayors said in its annual report Wednesday…”
  • Charleston’s homeless and hunger problems ranked against other cities, By Robert Behre, December 15, 2016, Post and Courier: “Charleston saw a 6 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance last year — more than the national average — and local governments and nonprofits distributed almost 1,500 tons of food.  Those statistics are from the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Annual 2016 Hunger and Homelessness Report released Wednesday…”
  • D.C. has the highest homeless rate of 32 U.S. cities, a new survey finds, By Justin Wm. Moyer, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “The District had the highest rate of homelessness in a new survey that looked at the problem in 32 U.S. cities. The ‘Hunger and Homelessness’ survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that D.C. has 124.2 homeless people for every 10,000 residents in the general population. The city also had one of the fastest increases in homelessness between 2009 and 2016, with a 34.1 percent gain. By comparison, New York had the largest increase during that period, at 49 percent…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

There’s a hunger problem on America’s college campuses, By Katie Lobosco, December 6, 2016, CNN Money: “Montclair State University’s food pantry is tucked away down a maze of hallways in the student center. Like the hunger problem on campus itself, the pantry is not quite out in the open.  It opened on the New Jersey college’s campus in April, after administrators started hearing from students who said they were hungry and didn’t have enough money for food. They surveyed students, finding that more than half said they or someone they know experiences ‘food insecurity’ — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food…”

SNAP and Military Families

Should more troops become eligible for food stamps?, By Carl Prine, November 28, 2016, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Despite steep pay raises since the 9/11 terror attacks, too many military personnel still struggle to feed their families and need an easier way to get food stamps, according to a new bill from a San Diego congresswoman.  Susan Davis has introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act in a bid to exempt the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing — a central component of most troops’ compensation — when determining eligibility for food stamps and 17 other federal food programs.  The legislation comes as food pantries and other charities said they continue to encounter strong demand from military households for their services…”

Public-Assistance Computer System – Rhode Island

69-page report details failings of public-assistance computer system, By Katherine Gregg, October 15, 2016, Providence Journal: “The hours-long wait times inside Rhode Island’s welfare offices, the inability to get through on phone lines and the deep ‘customer frustration’ with the troubled launch of the state’s new $364-million computer system are documented in a report the Raimondo administration provided to a federal agency on Friday.  The report spells out in detail, over 69 data-filled pages, the real-life problems faced in recent weeks by thousands of Rhode Islanders who rely on public-assistance benefits to buy food and pay for other basics, including one-hour, 40-minute wait times on the phone, and 2½-hour waits to talk to someone in person…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More colleges open food pantries to address campus hunger, October 14, 2016, National Public Radio: “At $68,000 per year, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive schools in the country, and yet some students — most of whom receive financial aid — still don’t have enough to eat every week. The university, bolstered by a national survey by the College and University Food Bank Alliance, discovered that nearly half of its student population matched the national rate of 48 percent of respondents who experienced food insecurity…”

Rural Food Insecurity

Small Iowa town a window Into hunger problem in rural US, By Scott McFetridge (AP), October 12, 2016, ABC News: “Storm Lake, Iowa, appears the picture of economic health, a place where jobs are plentiful, the unemployment rate hovers near 3 percent, busy shops fill century-old brick buildings and children ride bikes on tree-lined sidewalks that end in the glare of its namesake lake.  But there’s a growing problem in the northwest Iowa city of 11,000, one that’s familiar to rural areas around the country: Thousands of working families and elderly residents don’t have enough money to feed themselves or their children. The issue persists even as national poverty rates have declined in the past year and prices for many food staples have dropped slightly…”

Child Poverty and Malnutrition

Stunting and poverty ‘could hold back 250m children worldwide’, By Sarah Boseley, October 4, 2016, The Guardian: “Nearly 250 million young children across the world – 43% of under-fives – are unlikely to fulfil their potential as adults because of stunting and extreme poverty, new figures show.  The first three years of life are crucial to a child’s development, according to a series of research papers published in the Lancet medical journal, which says there are also economic costs to the failure to help them grow. Those who do not get the nutrition, care and stimulation they need will earn about 26% less than others as adults…”

SNAP Enrollment – New Jersey

Food stamp use down in N.J., but not as much as the rest of the U.S., By Susan K. Livio, September 16, 2016, NJ.com: “Reliance on food stamps dropped by 3 percent in New Jersey since last summer – six months after tougher rules took effect that required adults without children to work to receive their benefits, according to state data. There were 430,000 households on food stamps or what has been renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, a 3 percent decline from last summer, state Human Services data said. Salem, Somerset and Hunterdon counties saw the biggest caseload declines…”

SNAP Program and Online Shopping

  • Why SNAP benefits could be going digital, By Christina Beck, September 15, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Online shopping has long been a boon for most Americans, whether they hate the scrutinizing stares of fellow shoppers, the chaos of big stores, or simply can’t get out the door. Soon, modifications to the federal food stamp program, SNAP, might make the benefits of online shopping available to some who could need it most: the many recipients who live in areas where there are fewer healthy grocery stores, known as ‘food deserts…'”
  • Federal food stamp program to test online shopping for recipients, By Greg Trotter, September 15, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Starting next summer, Illinois residents on food stamps may be able to buy their groceries online through a two-year federal pilot program intended to increase food access for the poor.  Times, they are a’changin’, though faster for some than others. Online shopping has dramatically altered buying habits for most Americans in recent years, and now, the $75 billion federal food stamps program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is moving toward making that option available to the 43 million or so people across the country receiving benefits…”

Teen Hunger in the US

  • 13 percent of U.S. reports household hunger. How do teens cope?, By Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, September 12, 2016, PBS NewsHour: “Teenagers as young as 13 all too often play an active role in feeding their families, many taking jobs when they can or selling their possessions to help raise money for food, researchers found in a detailed look at hunger among adolescents. In extreme cases, teens resorted to crime and sexual favors in exchange for nourishment.  Yet, according to the research, many cringed at the thought of using a local food bank…”
  • Some hungry teens turn to crime, sex for food, By Ryan W. Miller, September 13, 2016, USA Today: “Shoplifting, stealing and selling their bodies for sex. When hunger hits, some desperate teens in the U.S. are turning to extreme options to provide food for their families, says new research released Monday from Feeding America and the Urban Institute.  Two new reports, ‘Bringing Teens to the Table’ and ‘Impossible Choices,’ document how widespread hunger is afflicting American teenagers, a demographic often overlooked in conversations about food security. About one in five children under 18 — including 6.8 million youths ages 10 to 17 — live in a household with limited or uncertain access to food, the research shows…”
  • The hidden epidemic of teen hunger, By Laura Bliss, September 13, 2016, The Atlantic: “A few years back, Susan J. Popkin was investigating sexual-health interventions in public housing in Washington D.C. The veteran housing and poverty researcher got wind of stories from parents that some teenagers in the community were essentially trading sex for food. ‘We were stunned to hear it,’ she says.  The problem of child hunger is a vast one—one in five American children live in food-insecure households, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But most of the resources and research are directed toward younger children; adolescents at the upper end of the age spectrum often get overlooked…”

Food Insecurity in the US

  • U.S. hunger risk rate falls to lowest since before recession, By Alan Bjerga, September 7, 2016, Bloomberg: “A measure used as a proxy for hunger in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest since before the Great Recession, the government said, as the number of Americans on food stamps remains high.  About 42.2 million Americans struggled to afford or obtain adequate nutrition at some point in 2015, a 12 percent drop from 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an annual survey released Wednesday…”
  • Number of hungry U.S. kids drops to lowest level since before Great Recession, By Pam Fessler, September 7, 2016, National Public Radio: “It’s rare to get good news when it comes to hunger. But the government says there was a big drop last year in the number of people in the country struggling to get enough to eat, especially children.  Overall, 15.8 million U.S. households, or 12.7 percent, experienced what the government calls ‘food insecurity’ at some point during 2015. That’s compared to about 17.4 million households — or 14 percent — in 2014, according to a new report by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Michigan

Court: Michigan stiffed deserving people out of food aid, By Tresa Baldas, August 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Over and over again, the computer rejected their names — and automatically cut off their food stamps.  Walter Barry, a 46-year-old mentally disabled Detroit man who lives with his mother, lost his public assistance when his name turned up in a fugitive database: His brother had stolen his name and used it as an alias when he was arrested about 25 years ago.  Identity theft victim Donitha Copeland, a onetime homeless woman, lost her food benefits when her name showed up in the same database: There was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for writing bad checks in Kalamazoo, though she had never been there…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Food stamp use on the rise in Nebraska, unlike in Iowa and rest of U.S., By Barbara Soderlin, August 23, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “The recession is in the rearview mirror, and the state’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation, but the number of Nebraskans who rely on government assistance for groceries has been on the rise — heading in the opposite direction of Iowa and the rest of the country. People who work with poor families say they don’t expect the number of Nebraskans on food stamps to fall anytime soon: Low wages are driving the need for benefits, those people say. And better outreach is helping more people access benefits than in the past…”
  • Why food stamp fraud is ‘fairly rampant’ at corner stores in some Chicago neighborhoods, By Greg Trotter, August 19, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Food stamp trafficking often begins with an innocuous question.  ‘Can I talk to you?’  Sami Deffala, who’s managed a corner store in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood for 13 years, said he hears that every day from customers vying for a private moment in hopes of using their Link cards to exchange SNAP benefits, the modern-day version of food stamps, for cash — an illegal practice called trafficking by federal regulators. And every day, Deffala said, he hears them out but refuses to take part in the scheme…”

SNAP Job Training Program – Baltimore, MD

New job training program targets food stamp recipients, By Lorraine Mirabella, August 15, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “A new state program aims to help Baltimore residents reduce their dependence on food stamps by training them for jobs that can lead to careers in manufacturing, green construction and health care.  About 260 low-skilled and under-educated people in the city are expected to receive training through a network of six workforce development groups in fiscal year 2017, officials with the state Department of Human Resources announced Monday…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program

States follow Maine in declining federal funds for food stamps, By Alan Bjerga, August 16, 2016, Bangor Daily News: “Food stamp enrollment in the U.S. is declining from record levels, in part because some states are ending benefits earlier than they have to. Seven states, all led by Republicans, have decided this year to end waivers for some able-bodied recipients that were made available in the 2009 federal stimulus bill — even though the benefits are federally funded.  Enrollment in what’s formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is still nearly twice the level it was before the recession. But the most recent data, for May, showed 43.5 million people were receiving food stamps, down 9 percent from a 2012 peak and the fewest since 2010…”

State Grocery Taxes

Decried as unfair, taxes on groceries persist in some states, By Elaine S. Povich, August 16, 2016, Stateline: “Thirteen states and many localities continue to tax the sale of groceries, even though the taxes disproportionately hurt the poor and may affect the quality, variety and even the amount of food they can afford to put on the table.  The reason: The taxes provide a steady source of revenue in volatile times, making it difficult for states to get rid of them without finding a way to make up the revenue. Recent efforts in several of the states to eliminate or lower the taxes have failed…”