Food Insecurity and Assistance – California

  • How L.A. County is trying to sign more people up for food stamps — and why it’s not easy, By Nina Agrawal, May 29, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Vickie Williams’ favorite meal is baked chicken, string beans and corn on the cob. She often makes it for Sunday dinner for her 81-year-old mother, five grown children and four grandchildren. Williams, a 58-year-old Gardena resident and former school cafeteria worker, estimates she spends at least $30 of the $194 in food stamps she receives each month on the meal. She doesn’t know how she’d get by without the help…”
  • Nearly 1 in 4 San Franciscans struggle with hunger, By Tara Duggan, May 24, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “According to the SF-Marin Food Bank, 23 percent of San Francisco residents struggle with hunger. The number is a striking amount, and much higher than the city’s homeless population, which the city said was 6,686 in 2015 (though others estimate it to be much higher), making it less than 1 percent of the population. Food insecurity is an often-misunderstood topic that has been thrust into the national conversation, given the White House’s federal budget proposal that aims to cut the food stamp program by $193 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25 percent…”

Rural Food Insecurity

In some rural counties, hunger is rising, but food donations aren’t, By Pam Fessler, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities.  Food banks that serve these areas are also feeling the squeeze, as surplus food supplies dwindle but the lines of people seeking help remain long…”

Military Families and Food Insecurity

When active-duty service members struggle to feed their families, By Dorian Merina, April 19, 2017, National Public Radio: “Kara Dethlefsen lined up early on a recent morning for the food pantry at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. She and her husband, both active-duty Marines, took turns holding their 4-month-old daughter. ‘We most like to get the avocados, lemons, some vegetables to cook up,’ says Dethlefsen, 27, who first heard about the pantry from an on-base nurse after giving birth.  ‘This probably saves us anywhere from $100-300 each time we come,’ she says. That’s key for her young family. Her husband is getting ready to transition to civilian life after five years of military service, and they’re not sure what financial challenges that could bring…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Four in 10 UC students do not have a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food, survey says, By Teresa Watanabe and Shane Newell, July 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Chris Tafoya admits that he’s often hungry and doesn’t eat the nutritious foods he should. On his worst days, the 20-year-old Los Angeles native said he would simply go to sleep early to quiet the hunger pangs.  Other times, he would eat instant ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter that each serving is packed with sodium and fat; at less than 50 cents each, it was affordable for Tafoya, who has balked at asking his low-income relatives for help…”

 

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • Cal State University looks to stem homelessness, hunger among students, By Josh Dulaney, June 21, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram: “On the heels of a report showing close to one in 10 Cal State University students are homeless or face housing instability, officials met this week in Long Beach to come up with solutions to help students. ‘I think we’re going to start getting some greater awareness across this country because of Cal State — because of our size and importance — is raising this issue across the nation, and we’re not alone in doing so,’ Chancellor Timothy P. White said at the outset of the two-day meeting at the Chancellor’s Office…”
  • Food pantries address a growing hunger problem at colleges, By Stephanie Saul, June 22, 2016, New York Times: “Tucked away in a discreet office atBrooklyn College’s Student Center, beyond the pool tables and wide-screen TVs where her classmates congregate, Rebecca Harmata discovered a lifeline.  A psychology major who works in a doctor’s office to pay for her education, Ms. Harmata describes a break-even, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, with little left over for luxuries — or even for food.  So when she saw a sign last fall advertising the school’s new free food pantry, she decided to take advantage…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Colleges beginning to address the issue of student hunger, By Bill Schackner, March 7, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Matt Armento’s first trip to the food pantry on the Community College of Allegheny County’s South Campus was as a sophomore volunteering to hand out pasta, canned goods and fruit to other students just scraping by. Honors students at CCAC South had decided that their service project would be to staff the pantry during its soft opening last fall. An honors student himself, Mr. Armento was there to join them. But in reality, he was facing the same financial pressures that had brought his peers there for assistance. So when the pantry held its grand opening this semester, he came back — this time as a recipient…”

Food Insecurity in Maine

  • Persistent hunger fuels sprawling food supply system for needy Mainers, By Tux Turkel, January 24, 2016, Portland Press Herald: “A multimillion-dollar food distribution network is expanding in Maine to meet the needs of more than 200,000 residents who otherwise would be hungry, a condition that’s worsening despite an overall improving economy. Federal figures show the level of food insecurity, a measure of a household’s inability to afford enough food throughout the year, has been escalating in Maine to a level that’s the highest in New England and above the national average. The latest government survey shows roughly 16 percent of Maine households are food-insecure, compared to a national average of 14 percent. Hunger relief advocates blame a combination of reasons, including stagnant wages, Maine’s higher cost of living and an aging population…”
  • Hunger drives more Mainers to soup kitchens, By Tux Turkel, January 24, 2016, Portland Press Herald: “A handful of people were lined up at dusk in the 29-degree chill behind the Calvary United Methodist Church on a recent Wednesday, waiting for the door to open so they could eat. Each Wednesday evening and Sunday morning, 50 or more people come to the Calvary City Mission for a free, hot meal in a warm place…”
  • Food that has lost its looks doesn’t have to go to waste, By Tux Turkel, January 24, 2016, Portland Press Herald: “Brian Cunningham comes to work at 4 a.m. to squeeze peppers and tomatoes. It takes Cunningham, the produce shift leader at Hannaford supermarket in Westbrook, two hours to perform a ‘deep cull,’ in which he scrutinizes or handles the cornucopia that greets shoppers in the modern American food store…”
  • Food pantries filling critical need, By Tux Turkel, January 24, 2016, Portland Press Herald: “Portland has gained a national reputation as a ‘foodie’ town, where the latest restaurant openings are followed with interest. Less publicized, in a city which also had 14 food pantries or free meal programs last year, was the launch of a new place that’s attracting a loyal following. It happened last August, when members of the Stroudwater Christian Church in Portland sensed a need in their suburban corner of the city, which borders Westbrook. So they started a modest food pantry. By the end of December, they were regularly serving 173 families every Wednesday afternoon…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Rise in college food banks linked to the economy and campus demographics, By Jason Song, August 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “For years, the food bank at Michigan State University was one of the few, if not the only, such organizations in the country. By 2008, only four other groups offered college students free meals. But as the economy continued to sink, Michigan State began to get a lot of company. There are now 199 similar groups throughout the country, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, including food pantries at UC Berkeley and UCLA. The California State University system is conducting a study to determine the number of students on its campuses who do not have regular sources of food and housing. And one student is attempting to convince vendors and restaurants at Santa Monica College to accept food stamps.

Food Insecurity in the US

Hunger strikes even rich U.S. counties, By Marisol Bello, April 13, 2015, USA Today: “Loudoun County in Virginia is made up of one of the wealthiest communities in the USA. But it’s also where Barbara Diaz, a nanny, struggles to feed her family of eight. While the median income in the county stands at $122,000 a year, Diaz, 55, makes about $21,600 a year as a nanny. With her salary, she has to feed her family and pay rent, car insurance and utilities. Often, she doesn’t have enough at the end of the month for food, so she turns regularly to her local food pantry for help. Diaz and her family are among the 46 million Americans who have a meal gap, in which they can’t afford to pay for three meals a day, according to a new report titled ‘Map the Meal Gap’ by Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks nationwide. The food banks provide food to pantries…”

SNAP System – Massachusetts

SNAP system overhaul leads to fewer receiving food stamps, Western Mass. pantries see surge in need, By Laura Newberry, February 19, 2015, MassLive: “When the state rolled out its new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program case management system in Oct. 2014, it was touted as a way to match caseworkers with clients more quickly, a crucial step in getting food stamps into the hands of those who need them most. But since then, the state has reported a sharp decline in the number of those receiving stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)  Advocates say the drop in recipients isn’t a result of a rebounding economy, but rather a faulty system that’s causing bureaucratic backlog…”

Food Insecurity in the U.S.

America’s real hunger game: 50 million in crisis, By Steve James, December 12, 2014, NBC News: “In the richest country in the world, nearly 1 in 6 Americans go to bed hungry. As the holiday season of giving approaches, the slow recovery from the 2008 recession and cuts in the government’s anti-hunger programs have only put more children and seniors at risk, advocates for the poor and hungry say. Corporations are finding more creative ways to help fight the scourge, but the number of hungry has risen, percolating up into the middle class and sparking fears for the welfare of aging baby boomers…”

Hunger in America Report

  • Hunger in America: 1 in 7 rely on food banks, By Natalie DiBlasio, August 17, 2014, USA Today: “When Mary Smallenburg, 35, of Fort Belvoir, Va., opened a package from her mother to find cereal and ramen noodles, she burst into tears. Without it, she wouldn’t be able to feed her four children. ‘It got to the point where I opened my pantry and there was nothing. Nothing. What was I going to feed my kids?’ Smallenburg says, adjusting a bag of fresh groceries on her arm. Smallenburg’s family is one of 50 military families that regularly visit the Lorton Community Action Center food bank. Volunteers wave a familiar hello as she walks in the door…”
  • Hunger in America study shows south central Michigan has high need for food banks, By Linda S. Mah, August 18, 2014, MLive: “A national study on hunger and food insecurity that included research on an eight-county area in south central Michigan, points to high need and continued struggles to balance food issues with other basic needs. The Hunger in America study is released every four years. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan in Battle Creek coordinated an analysis of local hunger issues in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Lenawee and St. Joseph counties. Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes food bank works with the Food Bank of SCM to provide food to residents through a network of 24 food pantries…”
  • Study sheds light on broadening U.S. hunger problem, By Andrea Stone, August 18, 2014, National Geographic: “Dusti Ridge leans on her cane and waits patiently for her number to be called at Bread for the City, a food bank in southeast Washington, D.C. When she hears ’56,’ she steps into the nonprofit group’s pantry to find out what she’ll be eating for the next week. Kale, green peppers, yellow tomatoes, and dried cherries—perfect for a favorite brown rice recipe—go into her shopping bag. So does a whole chicken. But she passes on canned green beans; too much salt, she says…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More college students battle hunger as education and living costs rise, By Tara Bahrampour, April 9, 2014, Washington Post: “When Paul Vaughn, an economics major, was in his third year at George Mason University, he decided to save money by moving off campus. He figured that skipping the basic campus meal plan, which costs $1,575 for 10 meals a week each semester, and buying his own food would make life easier. But he had trouble affording the $50 a week he had budgeted for food and ended up having to get two jobs to pay for it…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • 850,000 may have $90 less in food stamps, By Jennifer Liberto, January 17, 2014, CNNMoney: “A deal on food stamps in Congress could trim as much as $90 a month from 850,000 of the nation’s poorest who seek help to buy groceries. The measure is part of the latest farm bill and aims to cut about $9 billion from food stamps over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Research Service. It’s less than the $39 billion that Republicans had wanted to cut from the program; but double what Democrats had suggested…”
  • Food banks anticipate impact of cuts to food stamps, By Ron Nixon, January 21, 2014, New York Times: “Late last year, staff members at the Capital Area Food Bank here began fielding requests for larger deliveries from the dozens of soup kitchens and food pantries that it supplies as more and more people showed up seeking help. The food bank said it was not unusual to see a surge before Thanksgiving or Christmas. But this time the lines were caused not by the holidays but by a $5 billion cut to the federal food stamp program that took effect in November when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expired. Now the food bank, which provided about 45 million pounds of food last year, says it is preparing for even greater demand as Congress prepares to cut billions of dollars more from the food stamp program, which is included in a farm bill that has yet to pass. About 47 million Americans receive food stamps…”

SNAP and Food Insecurity

  • Food stamp fraud and errors are at historic low, while need is high, USDA report shows, By Stephen Koff, January 3, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “With the congressional food fight over benefits for the poor about to resume, the federal government quietly released a report on New Year’s Eve that suggests there is still a high need for food stamps. The statistical report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, also shows that despite partisan rhetoric about food stamp fraud and abuse, a record low rate of food stamps are given out in error – 3.42 percent in 2012 when all errors were accounted for. But only 2.77 percent of errors involved overpayment, including fraudulent applications for benefits that were approved and subsequently caught. The rest – 0.65 percent – occurred in cases where the government gave fewer benefits, not more, than the recipient was entitled to…”
  • Could your family live on $1.40 per meal?, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, December 27, 2013, Bangor Daily News: “In November, Maine lost $26 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps. The cut, which comes because of the end of the stimulus’s temporary financial boost, affects 251,000 individuals — about 19 percent of the state’s population. That’s about one in five of our neighbors. While this loss hits individuals and families the hardest, the state suffers as well: Every $1 of SNAP benefits equates to $1.70 of economic activity. As harsh as this cut was, much larger cuts threaten this vital program as Congress finishes its work on the Farm Bill. The House has proposed slashing $40 billion from the program and the Senate $4 billion, a smaller but still devastating amount…”
  • Demand for food stamps soars as cuts sink in and shelves empty, By Karen McVeigh, December 23, 2013, The Guardian: “For Denise Acosta, it was being laid off for the first time. For Diana Martinez, it was the death of her mother, leaving her as the sole carer for her severely disabled younger brother. For Johnny Hill, it was having to take responsibility, a year away from retirement, for her two young granddaughters. Each of these hard-working women from San Antonio, Texas, have fallen victim to circumstances that turned their lives upside down, robbing them of their full-time jobs, the paychecks they once enjoyed and, in Acosta’s case, her home. Their stories vary, but they all belong to a growing group, America’s working poor, for whom the journey from getting by to hunger can be brutally short…”
  • Food stamps need increases, but donations have declined, By Mike Wiser, January 6, 2014, The Gazette: “Steve Mohling was going over a shopping list in his head as he pushed a cart packed with eight gallons of milk through the aisles of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo. The 45,359-square-foot facility is the newest addition to the state’s network of food banks. It’ll serve an estimated 40,000 people in a 16-county area each year. But the Northeast Iowa Food Bank — as with the entire network — is under pressure from rising client base that’s only expected to grow when Congress returns from its winter break and likely cuts food aid in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in the farm bill by $8 billion…”