As we give thanks and celebrate ties of friendship and family this holiday season, we are reminded that no one should have to choose between family and food.
As you may know, the Trump administration recently proposed a "public charge" rule — now posted for public comment here — that would make it harder for immigrants and refugees in this country to become eligible to receive federal benefits. If adopted, families across the U.S. would lose access to a range of nutrition, health and housing benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is the nation's first line of defense against hunger, and provides food for millions of children, seniors, those with disabilities, veterans and working people.
Since the proposal was made public, service organizations across the country have reported drops in enrollment, and believe the administration has created an environment of fear and misinformation. The Food Trust is opposed to this rule, which would harm our efforts and those of our many partners to address food insecurity, healthy food access and poverty. Immigrants and refugees in America can face a myriad of challenges, and should not be afraid to access public assistance to help them deal with setbacks they may encounter along their journey. Their reasons for arrival in this country range from the darkest despair to the highest hope for a better life. As such, this proposal stands in stark contrast to the words engraved on that most American of icons, the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
As we near the end of a 60-day public comment period on December 10, we encourage our partners to provide comments and testimony. The national Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has developed sample comments and has posted additional information about the rule here; we invite you to join us and add your voice by commenting, and to share this information with your networks. During this time, let us not forget that no one should be afraid to seek help for their children when facing hunger.
Congress needs to go back to the drawing board and produce a bipartisan Farm Bill that creates jobs, supports farmers, improves health and ensures that no one in America goes hungry.
Taking food away from families as punishment for not being able to find a job in this economy is the wrong approach. We need to create more good-paying jobs so that fewer Americans need to rely on SNAP. The cuts proposed will also hurt the economy and cause a downward spiral as more jobs are lost and more food assistance is required. The bill also hurts small farmers by cutting programs that promote farmers markets and local food systems and attempts to restructure the national SNAP-Ed nutrition education program in a way that will disrupt services and worsen health outcomes.
While the bill includes some smart policies such as the re-authorization of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative and the expansion of the Food Insecurity Incentive program, it fails to deliver a national food and farm strategy that prevents hunger, strengthens the farm economy, protects the environment and improves health.
--Yael Lehmann, President & CEO, The Food Trust
Almost a quarter million people are eating healthier, thanks to one innovative idea. (via NationSwell)
The Food Trust of Philadelphia, one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in one of America’s poorest and most unhealthy big cities, began in a public housing development in South Philly, with volunteers piling mounds of fruits and veggies on one long table outside the project each week. Since 1992, they’ve taken their work beyond that first farmer’s market, improving access to healthy food and nutritional information for nearly 220,000 residents in poor neighborhoods — making Philadelphia one of the first cities to meet the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” challenge to eliminate food deserts entirely by 2017.
“We started to see that farmer’s markets provide seasonal access to fresh fruits and vegetables, not a long-term solution — or the only solution. They really only can open in summer on the East Coast. We realized it was really important to look at the longer term and more comprehensive approaches to food access,” says Candace Young, spokesperson for the nonprofit. Around 2004, “the first thing we did was we mapped out areas of the city that had low access to supermarkets and high-diet related deaths — the pockets of the city that needed better access. We sent that report to policy makers and practitioners, the health community and its advocates, the food retail community. What was built from there was this multi-million dollar public-private initiative to build new or even just renovate supermarkets around the whole state.”
Read more here.
Brian Lang, director of The Food Trust's National Campaign for Healthy Food Access, recently had the opportunity to join a roundtable discussion with Mari Gallagher (Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group) and Helen Lee (MDRC) on the connection between healthy food access and health for The Wall Street Journal. Says Lang:
"For folks without a lot of time or money, it's easier to find a grape soda than a bunch of grapes. The 2 miles that a higher-income suburbanite might travel to access healthy food isn't the same as the 2 miles that a lower-income resident might travel."
Read more here.
Philly Food Bucks is a healthy food incentive program developed and launched in 2010 to increase the purchasing power of SNAP customers at farmers' markets. For every $5 that SNAP customers spend using their benefits at a participating market site, they receive a $2 coupon for fresh fruits and vegetables. The program is available to all SNAP recipients, and in 2014, Philly Food Bucks coupons could be redeemed at 29 sites that sell local fruits and vegetables across Philadelphia. Through the program, The Food Trust seeks to increase SNAP sales at farmers' markets, increase the affordability of produce to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and bolster the sales of local farmers.
Read more here.