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2012 September - October

Emerging Solutions to the Failure of Institutional Food

By Jota Borgmann

Food in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and prisons is known for being unhealthy and unappetizing. In institutions such as adult homes, where many residents suffer from diabetes or hypertension, poor food can worsen residents’ health. Residents of institutions have no choice or control over their food, even though their health would benefit from a fresher, more individualized diet. Regulatory enforcement and class action lawsuits have brought only minimal improvement. More significant change has come from resident-centered meal planning and pilots such as “farm-to-institution” programs.

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Recognizing the Link Among Climate Change, Food, and Poverty

By Helen Kang

Climate change directly affects food security. It alters food production and price, which in turn influence how easily low-income families can acquire food. The link among climate change, food, and poverty is complex but essential for policymakers to understand. Explicitly acknowledging this connection will improve government decisions on issues ranging from energy policy to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food-price index. Environmental and antipoverty advocates must work together to meet the challenges of climate change.

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Overcoming Food Insecurity Among Elders

By Susan Ann Silverstein

Older people use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at much lower rates than younger people, even though hunger is growing disproportionately among the elderly and can have serious health consequences. Changes in the application process and in the administration of SNAP can remove many of the barriers that impede seniors’ participation. Other federal nutrition programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services can also help protect seniors against food insecurity.

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Double Up Food Bucks

How Advocates Can Help Grow a Healthy, Sustainable Food System

By Oran B. Hesterman

Many recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits live in areas where little healthy food is available and are thus more susceptible to illness and death from diet-related disease. Farmers’ markets, many of which now accept SNAP benefits, offer healthy, local food, but few SNAP beneficiaries patronize farmers’ markets due to lack of familiarity or higher prices. Double Up Food Bucks, a Michigan project organized by Fair Food Network, encourages farmers’ market shopping by doubling the value of $20 in SNAP benefits; the project has increased purchases at farmers’ markets with SNAP benefits. A provision of the 2012 Farm Bill offers incentives to expand the program nationally.

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Protecting Households as States Stagger SNAP Issuance

By David A. Super

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) traditionally issued benefits on the first day of the month. Staggering the issuance of households’ benefits throughout the month is better for retailers and low-income consumers alike. However, without supplemental allotments of benefits to households during the transition to staggered issuance, households would be short of food. Most states and the Food and Nutrition Service have done little to provide SNAP recipients with supplemental issuances, even though the Food and Nutrition Act calls for them.

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Private Food Banks and Public Programs Fight Hunger Together

By Kate Maehr & Matt Knott

The federal government works with private food banks and charities to relieve the hunger and food insecurity of nearly forty-nine million Americans. Many of these hungry families do not receive food assistance because they are unaware of available programs, think they are ineligible, cannot navigate enrollment, or fear stigma. Individuals may encounter antihunger programs at food pantries, senior citizens’ centers, and schools. Funding for federal food programs may be cut at the same time that unemployment levels are projected to remain high, further straining public-private emergency assistance.

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Emerging Problems with Immigrants' Access to Food from Private Charities

By Susan Reed

Because many noncitizens are ineligible for government-funded nutrition programs, private charities often step in to help. However, several obstacles have arisen to food banks’ and other private entities’ provision of assistance to noncitizens. Requiring evidence of denial of help from government agencies can preclude any help for immigrants who fear contact with government actors, as can requiring government-issued photo identification that immigrants are unable to obtain. Some charities fear charges of “harboring” unauthorized immigrants to whom they provide help, although a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit should help assuage such concerns.

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Preventing Terminations of SNAP When States Fail to Recertify Households on Time

By David A. Super

The faltering economy has spurred growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) just when state agencies that process applications for food assistance have been forced to lay off caseworkers. New applications for SNAP are being delayed in violation of the Food and Nutrition Act. Because states are behind in processing new applications, they also fall behind in processing applications from households seeking recertification and, worse, automatically cut off food assistance to such households.

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Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

By Billy Shore

Many advocates and organizations have devoted time and money to helping their clients get healthy, nutritious food, without major success. Share Our Strength, based in Washington, D.C., has succeeded in bringing food to America’s low-income children by focusing on public-private partnerships. The organization’s No Kid Hungry Campaign shares lessons with low-income Americans’ advocates in understanding how food insecurity affects children and how to work with policymakers.

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SNAP Basics

By Barbara Jones

Enrolling in federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a challenge for low-income Americans. Many SNAP-eligible people do not enroll in the program and miss out of its benefits. Federal nutrition programs puzzle many advocates as well, but they can rely on online eligibility tools and related resources. Learning to recognize common characteristics of food-insecure clients, advocates can make sure that all SNAP-eligible clients receive the program’s benefits even if the clients did not originally seek legal advice on food access problems.

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Southern Progress

Antihunger and Food Justice Movements in Arkansas and Mississippi

By Kathy Webb & Bonnie Allen

Arkansas has made more rapid progress in fighting hunger than Mississippi, although the two states are similar in many ways. Advocates in Arkansas having made a concerted effort to collaborate with nonprofit organizations, the governor’s office, the state legislature, and corporations, Arkansas has creatively gotten more food to food banks and increased participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and summer and after-school meal programs. Mississippi’s burgeoning antihunger and food justice movement is replicating Arkansas’s.

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The Farm Bill as a Resource for Strengthening Food Systems

By Jill Krueger

When people think of the Farm Bill, they usually think of agricultural subsidies, and not of resources for helping low-income Americans eat more nutritious, healthy food. the U.S. Department of Agriculture and public health advocates are trying to broaden this narrow perception. Not only is the Farm Bill home to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other well-known federal nutrition programs, but also the Farm Bill supports farms and farmers in ways that are helping the agricultural community create sustainable community food systems.

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National Center for Law and Economic Justice's SNAP Application Delay Litigation Project

By Mary R. Mannix & Marc Cohan

Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased with the economic downturn, but in several states SNAP participation has not risen accordingly, on reason being delays in application processing. The National Center for Law and Economic Justice and its cocounsel have been litigating against delays in different states and learning valuable lessons about the causes of application processing delays and how advocates can work against delays in their own communities.

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A Human Rights-Based Approach to Food Security

By Angela Duger & Martha F. Davis

A right to food is well established under international law, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the United States historically rejected the concept, the United States recognized food as a human right in 2011 and has incorporated human rights language into standards for domestic food programs. Advocates should consider using the right-to-food framework both the challenge structural causes of food insecurity and in representing individual clients at risk of hunger.

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Hunger in America 2012

By James D. Weill

Hunger in the United States can be more subtle than elsewhere in the world, but it is nonetheless is widespread and carries devastating consequences. Federal nutrition programs help mitigate these effects, particularly during the recession, when eligibility for and participation in these programs have skyrocketed and the entitlement to nutrition assistance has helped individuals and families avoid even more devastating poverty. Ending hunger is possible, and the linchpin of that accomplishment will be an improved economy. Meanwhile, nutrition programs are an essential support.

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