SNAP Application Process -Pennsylvania

More than 350,000 Pa. seniors take advantage of streamlined food-stamp application, By Kate Giammarise, November 13, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “More than a year after the state rolled out a vastly simplified application process for some senior citizens applying for food assistance, more than 350,000 older Pennsylvanians have used the streamlined tool. Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services introduced the easier application in June of last year, changing the form from a 24-page document that covered multiple assistance programs to a more manageable two-page application…”

Healthy Food Programs for SNAP Recipients

  • New program buoys purchases of fresh food with food stamps, By Rachel Alexander, November 9, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Brandaleen Harper used to have trouble affording produce for herself and her son, Gabriel. Harper works part time in child care and said her food stamps often don’t stretch far enough to cover everything she’d like to buy. But a new program through the Spokane Regional Health District and the Washington State Department of Health is making it easier for people using food stamps to buy fruits and vegetables…”
  • Assembly approves giving Wisconsin food stamp users a discount on produce, healthy groceries, By Patrick Marley, November 7, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Some people who use food stamps would get a break on buying produce and other healthy groceries, under a bill the state Assembly overwhelmingly approved Tuesday…”

Welfare Reform – Ohio

20 years after welfare reform, are Ohio’s poor any better off?, By Catherine Candisky, October 15, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It’s been seven years since Laura Staten hit rock bottom, but talking about it still makes her cry. With her 1 1/2-year-old son, their belongings stuffed into two trash bags, and less than $100 in her pocket, Staten fled an abusive marriage, unsure how to build a new life but determined to do it. ‘I had nothing,’ said the 33-year-old preschool teacher from Bremen, her voice quivering. With new restrictions on welfare, she learned that help from the government would be limited…”

Child Poverty

  • America’s child-poverty rate has hit a record low, By Annie Lowrey, October 5, 2017, The Atlantic: “The economy is nearing full employment. The stock market is at record highs. The expansion keeps continuing. Add to that one more very good piece of economic news: The child-poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016.  That finding comes from a new analysis of government and academic data by Isaac Shapiro and Danilo Trisi, both researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank. The child-poverty rate declined to 15.6 percent in 2016, the researchers found, down from a post-recession high of 18.1 percent in 2012 and from 28.4 percent in 1967. That means that roughly 11.5 million kids were living in households below the poverty threshold last year…”
  • Brownback touts child poverty drop, but progress uneven, By Jonathan Shorman, October 2, 2017, Wichita Eagle: “The figure is eye-catching: The number of Kansas children in poverty dropped by 26 percent over the past five years. Gov. Sam Brownback touted that statistic and others this week, directly linking the decline to his welfare policies. ‘By encouraging work over reliance, we have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans,’ Brownback said. ‘Our policies are good for Kansas families, the economy and taxpayers.’ But there’s more to the numbers than meets the eye…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Tennessee to reinstate work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients, By Anita Wadhwani, September 18, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee will reinstate work requirements for food stamp recipients a decade after they were eased during the height of the economic recession, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday…”
  • No power means no food stamps for Miami’s neediest in Hurricane Irma’s wake, By Alex Harris, September 15, 2017, Miami Herald: “Friday morning, Michael Mighty took a bus to 58th Street for a free plate of Curry Gold and peas and rice at one of his favorite Jamaican restaurants. ‘I told them to make it as hot as possible,’ he said. ‘I’m tired of eating sandwiches.’ It might be his only meal for the day. Mighty, 58, still doesn’t have power in his Overtown apartment, and for most of this week, neither did the grocery stores he relied on. Without power, he couldn’t use his food stamps, which come on a debit card-style system these days…”
  • Walmart to allow food stamp users to buy groceries online, By Leada Gore, September 20, 2017, AL.com: “Walmart is rolling out a pilot program that will allow food stamp recipients to order groceries online and pick them up at stores. The nation’s largest retailer is currently offering online ordering for food stamp and other EBT users at one store in the Houston market and four more in Boise, Idaho. More markets will be added throughout 2017, Walmart said in a statement…”

Technology and SNAP Beneficiaries

Startups are finally taking on food stamps, By Tonya Riley, September 6, 2017, Wired: “Felicia Graybill uses her smartphone for everything: sending email, checking Facebook, and even monitoring her bank account. But for years, when the 28-year-old Brooklyn mom went to check on her food stamps benefits she might as well have been using a landline. Reviewing her balance required dialing into a hotline and entering her entire card number. All she could access was the sum of her funds—there was no way of breaking down how and when she’d spent the money…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Pa. restores LIHEAP funding and extends availability, By Claudia Vargas, August 30, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services will restore planned cuts to home-heating assistance for the poor this winter, a relief for thousands of people across the state who rely on the service…”

Disability Financial Assistance – Ohio

Ohio budget bill ended cash assistance program for people with disabilities, By Jackie Borchardt, August 7, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers last month quietly eliminated a state safety net program that provided cash benefits to about 6,000 disabled Ohioans with little or no income.  The state stopped accepting new applications for the Disability Financial Assistance program July 1 — a change buried in the 3,300-page state budget bill…”

Guaranteed Basic Income

How to fix poverty: Why not just give people money?, By Nurith Aizenman, August 7, 2017, National Public Radio: “Young guys in dusty polo shirts. New moms holding their babies. Grandmas in bright head wraps. They’ve all gathered in a clearing for one of the village meetings when something remarkable happens. Practically every person’s cellphone starts tinkling. It’s a text alert from an American charity called GiveDirectly. Last fall, GiveDirectly announced that it will give every adult in this impoverished village in Kenya an extra $22 each month for the next 12 years — with no strings attached…”

Summer Meal Programs

  • Texas has more kids eligible for free summer meals. Why is the state feeding fewer?, By Aliyya Swaby, August 2, 2017, Texas Tribune: “When Evelyn Delgado saw a banner outside her daughter’s Houston school advertising free breakfasts and lunches this June, she figured it was an opportunity to give her 7-year-old good food and a chance to get out of the house. Delgado used to work at a local Fiesta Mart and leave her two kids with a babysitter, before she realized that paying the sitter was eating up her paltry wages. Now a stay-at-home mom with a husband who works in maintenance, she said the summer program helps feed her kids, who are eligible for free meals during the school year…”
  • When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids, By Aliyya Swaby, August 3, 2017, Texas Tribune: “Clara Crawford tapped the horn three times. Seconds later, two young boys ran down the steps of their house, their mother waving goodbye from the porch. Each summer, most days of the week, the 86-year-old Crawford drives a 1995 Ford cargo van 35 miles to gather up about 20 hungry children in Fairview, an unincorporated community in Rusk County, and the neighboring city of Reklaw. She takes them to a program she runs at a local community center where they can play basketball in the hot sun and get a full lunch plus a snack…”
  • Children in low-income families suffer during the summer without subsidized school food programs, By Leslie Albrecht, August 1, 2017, MarketWatch: “Families who rely on government food programs to keep their fridges stocked don’t have the financial resources to feed themselves when those programs disappear, according to a new study circulated by the Cambridge, Mass.-based National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers wanted to see how families changed their spending habits after losing government food assistance, so they analyzed what happened in the summer months when low-income children don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs…”

SNAP – California, Pennsylvania

  • As economy improves, fewer Californians use food stamps, By Phillip Reese, August 2, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “For 10 years, the number of California residents on food stamps increased, ultimately doubling to more than 4.4 million by late 2015. That trend has reversed in the last year, thanks largely to an improving economy and low unemployment. About 400,000 fewer Californians take food stamps today than during late 2015, according to the latest state and federal data…”
  • About 30,000 fewer Pa. residents get food stamps after work requirement waiver lifted, By Heather Stauffer, August 1, 2017, LancasterOnline: “A year after federal work requirements went into effect for a small portion of Pennsylvania food stamp recipients, about a quarter of them are no longer covered by the program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation among able-bodied adults without dependents dropped from 120,783 statewide in March 2016 to 90,661 in March 2017, according to state records…”

TANF Program Enrollment – Oregon

Cash assistance cases still above pre-recession levels, By Claire Withycombe, July 24, 2017, East Oregonian: “The number of Oregonians receiving federal cash assistance remains higher than it was at the start of the Great Recession, but state analysts expect the number to shrink to pre-recession levels by early 2019…”

Welfare Reform – Washington, DC

District does an about-face on welfare reform with decision to keep helping long-term recipients, By Paul Duggan, July 24, 2017, Washington Post: “In 2011, long-term welfare recipients in the District had reason to be gravely worried, because the D.C. Council and then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed intent on ending benefits entirely for families that had been on the rolls for longer than 60 months. The cutoff date, dubbed ‘the cliff,’ was set for October of this year, after which about 6,000 impoverished adults with roughly 12,000 children would be left to fend for themselves financially…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Reform of Safety-Net Programs

  • GOP challenge: Reforming widely accepted ‘safety net’ programs, By Mark Turnbull, July 19, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “The failure of Senate Republicans to close ranks on health-care reform this week put on display an old challenge: How conservatives can reform social safety-net programs when there’s a growing acceptance of them – even among Republican voters…”
  • Small tweaks to existing policies could make a huge difference for poor families, By Karen Weese, July 20, 2017, Washington Post: “It wasn’t much — just five bucks apiece — but both boys’ eyes sparkled when Carol Moore told them they could spend it on anything they wanted. ‘Meet me back here in 10 minutes,’ Moore told the boys, whom she’d met a few months ago when they came to her church’s homeless shelter. As the boys set out into the aisles of Walmart, she called after them: ‘Just get something you really want, okay?’ Ten minutes later, they came back and held out their treasure. It was deodorant…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

State cuts into child-care subsidies, By Rob Ryser, July 9, 2017, Danbury News Times: “State cuts to a program that helps needy families afford child care has left 6,500 kids across Connecticut without a quality place to go while their parents are working. Child care subsidies for 235 children have been dropped in greater Danbury since cuts to the Care 4 Kids program began in August. Advocates say the result will be more children who are less prepared for kindergarten, and more parents who stop working and apply for government assistance, because they cannot afford child care…”

Lifeline Program

This low-cost phone and Internet program wastes millions in federal funding, auditors say, By Brian Fung, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “A federal program designed to help millions of low-income Americans afford phone and Internet service is riddled with fraud and abuse, with at least $137 million a year going to ineligible, fake or dead people, according to government auditors. The explosive report Thursday from the Government Accountability Office shows that despite efforts to rein in abuse of the sprawling Lifeline program, which serves 12.3 million subscribers on Medicaid, food stamps or other benefits, many recipients of the $9.25-a-month credit are violating program rules…”

Summer Meal Programs – Minnesota

Summer Eats app helps Minnesota kids take bite out of hunger, By Shannon Prather, June 28, 2017, Star Tribune: “For kids who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches, summer break can be a hungry time. But there are nearly 700 sites across the state serving free, healthy meals to kids this summer — no reservations required — and a new smartphone app called Summer Eats Minnesota is making it easier for children and teens to find them. One additional perk of the app: It lists the menu at many locales…”

Child Welfare System – Michigan

Problems continue for Michigan’s child welfare database, By Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal: “The state’s troubled child welfare database lacked the necessary controls ‘to ensure that all cases are actively managed and all children and families receive necessary services,’ auditors reported Tuesday.  As of March 1, auditors had found 208 cases without a worker assigned to them. Those cases, a fraction of nearly 70,000 in the system, were hangovers from the state’s previous software database and should have been closed out, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services said in its preliminary response contained in Tuesday’s report…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Federal budget cutters take aim at food stamps, By Jessica Wehrman, June 18, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s budget would slash the federal food-assistance program by 25 percent, saddling states such as Ohio with the cost of feeding the hungriest among them. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, dates to 1964 — pilot programs existed before then — and, to hear advocates tell it, has been one of the nation’s most effective anti-hunger programs…”