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Celebrate Farm to School Month!

Celebrate Farm to School Month!

By | October 4th, 2019 | FPA Blogs & News |

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Did you know that October is Farm to School month where fresh, local food is used at nearby schools and served to hungry kids? Depending on where you live, your local produce might include crisp apples, the last juicy tomatoes, firm acorn squash, or a fall crop of greens. Farm to School programs are a good investment. It turns out that when schools offer local food options to kids, it’s a win-win solution both for students’ healthy eating and for local farmers’ bottom line.


Did you know that October is Farm to School month where fresh, local food is used at nearby schools and served to hungry kids? Depending on where you live,...

Did you know that October is Farm to School month where fresh, local food is used at nearby schools and served to hungry kids? Depending on where you live, your local produce might include crisp apples, the last juicy tomatoes, firm acorn squash, or a fall crop of greens.

Farm to School programs are a good investment. It turns out that when schools offer local food options to kids, it’s a win-win solution both for students’ healthy eating and for local farmers’ bottom line. In fact, University of Florida researchers found that students attending schools that participate in Farm to School programs eat 37% more vegetables and 11% more fruit than they did before the programs were implemented.

And, Florida schools aren’t alone — numerous studies have found that Farm to School programs get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, decrease how much kids throw away, and build student knowledge of healthy eating habits that will positively shape their dietary preferences for the rest of their lives.

With these proven successes, you can help Farm to School programs reach more kids. While the federal Farm to School grant program has made great progress in linking local farms to schools, it still only funds a fraction of the eligible applications every year. One of Food Policy Action’s partner organizations, the National Farm to School Network, has proposed two complementary bills that would 1) increase funding for Farm to School programs, and, 2) allow schools to prioritize serving local food and encourage Farm to School grant projects to actively include beginning farmers, veterans, and socially disadvantaged farmers.

For the 2018-2019 school year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Farm to School grants will reach 2.8 million students but 66% of those kids are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. What does this mean? That we have to protect access to school meal programs. And, for kids to benefit from Farm to School programs, we have to advocate against any legislative or regulatory changes that would erect barriers to kids from low-income families to get free and reduced-price meals. Just last month, the Trump administration closed a comment period on their proposed rule change to disqualify up to 500,000 kids from school meals. This cut would also mean more paperwork for schools making them spend more time verifying students’ individual eligibility instead of focusing on better strategies to get fresh, healthy meals into their schools and into hungry kids’ tummies.

So this October, as the weather turns cooler and we prepare for Halloween, please take time to find out about Farm to School programs in your community. Learn about them and share your success stories with us on Facebook or Twitter. And be prepared, as we expect the need to raise our voices to help our schools feed our kids with fresh, local food.

Food Policy Action Education Fund Formal Comments on SNAP Rule Change

Food Policy Action Education Fund Formal Comments on SNAP Rule Change

By | September 18th, 2019 | FPA Blogs & News, Press Releases - FPA Education Fund |

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Today, Food Policy Action Education Fund submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposing its proposed change to food assistance rules. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is our nation’s largest anti-hunger program. This rule change would make over 3 million people ineligible for SNAP if it goes into effect. You can read our previous statements on this cruel measure here, and offer your own comments to the federal government here until 11:59 pm on Monday, September 23.


*** Food Policy Action Education Fund (FPAEF) appreciates the opportunity to submit comments in response to the proposed revision of Categorical Eligib...

***

Food Policy Action Education Fund (FPAEF) appreciates the opportunity to submit comments in response to the proposed revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). FPAEF is a national organization that works to change farm and food policies to balance our food system in order to provide healthy, safe, and affordable food for everyone. National and local anti-hunger groups are key partners in our efforts to ensure that federal anti-hunger programs effectively reach the millions of Americans who need help putting food on their table.

FPAEF opposes the administration’s proposed rule to eliminate the broad-based categorical eligibility option for states.  This change would have devastating results for an estimated 3 million people, making them ineligible for SNAP, according to USDA’s own analysis. Your own report states that households with incomes slightly over the poverty level, regardless of skyrocketing housing and childcare expenses, would become “not poor enough” to receive the help they need to feed their families. Older adults would be forced to tap into and use up even modest amounts of savings before getting help to stave off hunger. USDA Secretary Purdue’s staff stated to Members of Congress that 500,000 school-age children could lose access to school meal programs if their families become ineligible for SNAP.

The results of this proposed rule are far-reaching and do not only impact hungry individuals.

  • Schools in low-income areas could lose their ability to serve universal free breakfast and lunch programs due to the change in students’ SNAP eligibility. Staff will have to spend more time filling out paperwork to certify low-income kids to receive food assistance instead of focusing on building a healthy foundation for education.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities who survive on a fixed income will be at greater risk of hunger as a result of this proposed rule and, as a result, would face increased health challenges and health care costs.
  • Finally, this position not cost effective for local communities. Every SNAP dollar stimulates between $1.50 and $.180 in economic activity. The local food retailers, farmers, and economies that benefit from SNAP spending, particularly during economic downturns, will suffer sending negative ripple effects through the whole sector.

Food Policy Action Education Fund closely followed the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and watched as Congress specifically rejected this exact change to broad-based categorical eligibility. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should not subvert Congressional intent for this crucial anti-hunger program. We urge you to listen to the state agencies, case workers, food retailers, and front-line food pantries who oppose this rule.

 

 

Food Policy Action Statement on Trump Proposal to Deny Food Assistance to 3 Million People

Food Policy Action Statement on Trump Proposal to Deny Food Assistance to 3 Million People

By | July 24th, 2019 | Press Releases - FPA Education Fund |

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“Unfortunately, this latest attack on struggling Americans will increase hunger in the United States—including for our most vulnerable: our children and seniors,” said Monica Mills, Executive Director of Food Policy Action.


WASHINGTON, July 24, 2019 —The Trump administration has issued a proposed rule to take food assistance away from 3 million people—completely contrary ...

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2019 —The Trump administration has issued a proposed rule to take food assistance away from 3 million people—completely contrary to the decisions that Congress made in a bipartisan farm bill passed at the end of last year. This rule would make people in need ineligible to participate in the nation’s first line of defense against hunger, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), even though the Administration’s own U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that this action will increase food insecurity in the United States.

“Unfortunately, this latest attack on struggling Americans will increase hunger in the United States—including for our most vulnerable: our children and seniors,” said Monica Mills, Executive Director of Food Policy Action.

“Their proposed change would ban the categorical eligibility option that allows states to cut through red tape to help hungry families put food on their tables. Why in the world would the Administration want to do this other than to hurt the poor? This is cruel. Period. More families, more children, more seniors, and more people with disabilities will go hungry. More will worry about their next meal and how to put food on their tables. In addition, this rule will harm local economies—especially in rural areas—where every SNAP dollar puts $1.70 back into the economy to grocery stores, distribution centers, and farmers.”

“Since SNAP began, it has helped millions of Americans stave off hunger. The Trump administration should build on SNAP’s successes instead of working to undercut it. This proposed rule should never be implemented,” Mills concluded.

FPA will join other advocacy organizations to add comments opposing this rule. The 60-day public comment period begins July 24.

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Healthy, Safe, Affordable Food for All—How Can We Make Sure Our Food is Safe?

Healthy, Safe, Affordable Food for All—How Can We Make Sure Our Food is Safe?

By | July 18th, 2019 | Blogs, FPA Blogs & News |

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that the e. coli outbreaks sickening more than 200 people across ten states earlier this spring are officially over. Working with the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tasked with keeping the public safe from contaminated food and can order mandatory recalls of dangerous foods to get them off of store shelves. But let’s stop for a minute and ask: why are these outbreaks happening in the first place?


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that the e. coli outbreaks sickening more than 200 people across ten states earlier this spring ar...

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that the e. coli outbreaks sickening more than 200 people across ten states earlier this spring are officially over. The outbreaks were traced to two brands of ground beef and public health officials recalled more than 166,000 pounds of meat. This recall is just the latest in a series of food-borne illness outbreaks of e. coli and salmonella that have sickened consumers of contaminated ground beef, turkey, and lettuce over the last year.   

Working with the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tasked with keeping the public safe from contaminated food and can order mandatory recalls of dangerous foods to get them off of store shelves. But let’s stop for a minute and ask: why are these outbreaks happening in the first place?

Food safety advocates point to weak enforcement standards that don’t prioritize public safety and too little federal funding for inspectors to enforce existing laws and regulations. It’s disheartening and unsafe to know that some of the most popular brands of chicken in local supermarket have one or more processing plants that fail to meet salmonella safety standards but aren’t shut down. Why?

In addition, outbreaks are hard to isolate when chicken, hogs, and cows are slaughtered, butchered, and ground in massive plants, where contamination has the chance to spread widely. Meat companies are also more likely to cut corners if they don’t have to worry about frequent inspections. In fact, slaughterhouse owners have persuaded USDA to allow slaughterhouses to increase the speed at which workers kill and process pigs and chickens, to stop cleaning slaughtered animals before butchering them, and to set their own rules for contamination. USDA even wants to let slaughterhouses use their own employees to monitor plants, instead of outside USDA inspectors.

Could consumers simply avoid buying from these processing companies? Maybe. But it’s not so easy for Americans who struggle with hunger or for certain schoolchildren. The U.S. government regularly purchases from major meat and poultry companies like Smithfield, JBS, Tyson, and Cargill to give to food banks and school lunch programs—which is great on one hand but perhaps not as safe as we would hope.

Food Policy Action will continue to work with Congress to advocate for additional and more effective federal inspections along with tightened enforcement. But we all need to stay vigilant — keep your eyes peeled for the next recall. Because there will definitely be one.

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Our mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. Food Policy Action promotes positive policies through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.

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