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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Food and Nutrition

SNAP and Farmers Markets

Some food stamp recipients may soon lose access to farmers market benefits, By Jane Black and Leah Douglas, July 9, 2018, Washington Post: “On Saturday morning, Ludy Arnold arrived at the H Street farmers market in Northeast Washington just minutes after it opened. Arnold is 70 and lives in nearby public housing for seniors. She comes every week, and has for the past four years, to buy fruit, greens and summer tomatoes with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. That allowance is boosted by matching dollars, provided by a nonprofit group, so that Arnold has $20 to spend each week. ‘I only have my Social Security,’ she said. ‘So this is how I get my food. I depend on it.’ But technical difficulties may put an end to Arnold’s weekly shopping here…”

SNAP Participation – California

Why millions of Californians eligible for food stamps don’t get them, By Anna Gorman and Harriet Rowan, May 1, 2018, National Public Radio: “Millions of low-income Californians eligible for food stamps are not receiving the benefit, earning the state one of the lowest rankings in the nation for its participation in the program. Just three states — Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming — have lower rates of participation, according to the latest available federal data released this year. Meanwhile, California is among the leaders on enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, which also serves people living in low-income households…”

SNAP and Job Training

Can $1 billion help low-income Americans find jobs?, By Tami Luhby, April 20, 2018, CNN Money: “$1 billion a year for job training sure sounds like a lot of money. That’s how much Congressional Republicans want to give states to help food stamp recipients find work. It’s a huge increase over the $90 million in federal funding that currently flows to state training programs for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps is formally known…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • The hidden crisis on college campuses: Many students don’t have enough to eat, By Caitlin Dewey, April 3, 2018, Washington Post: “Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result…”
  • Hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students, study finds, By Vanessa Romo, April 3, 2018, National Public Radio: “As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they’re gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Food boxes, not stamps? Idea in Trump budget worries grocers, By Kristen De Groot and Gene J. Puskar (AP), March 5, 2018, Denver Post: “Finding fresh food in this tiny riverside community that was hit hard by the steel industry’s decline has always been a challenge. Then, seven years ago, Carl’s Cafe opened. The grocery store, near new government housing, offers cooking classes and a source of fresh, healthy food. Proprietor Carl Lewis even has customers sign a pledge: If he provides fresh produce, they’ll buy it. Five such purchases, and they get their sixth free. About half his customers pay with benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so the government’s proposal to replace the debit card-type program with a pre-assembled box of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients worries him and other grocery operators in poor areas about their patrons’ nutrition, and their own bottom line…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Rewards program encourages SNAP recipients to make healthy choices, By Teresa Wiltz, February 28, 2018, Stateline: “Cities and states are trying new ways to entice food stamp recipients to eat their fruits and vegetables. One approach that’s gaining popularity: offering rebates to low-income families when they buy fresh produce. A program in Massachusetts was so popular that it ran out of rebate money and had to be suspended…”
  • How might Trump’s food box plan affect health? Native Americans know all too well, By Maria Godoy, February 25, 2018, National Public Radio: “The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable — i.e. not fresh — foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them.  Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have historically received, with devastating implications for health…”

Food Insecurity – Columbus, OH

One-third of families experience food ‘insecurity,’ double previous estimates, By Rita Price, January 26, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “A study that looked at Columbus neighborhood ‘food environments’ found disparities in access, affordability and availability that could be much worse than previously understood. The results are yet another indication — one that isn’t always easy to see — of the city’s deep economic divides…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – North Carolina

North Carolina food stamp numbers are too good to be true, By Lynn Bonner, January 31, 2018, News and Observer: “An abrupt drop in food stamp use that had North Carolina leading the nation in the rate of people leaving the program turned out to be a fiction. Since last May, federal reports showed steep year-over-year drops in people enrolled in food stamps in North Carolina, with the participation rate declining faster than in any other state. In September 2017, the state reported fewer than a million people enrolled in food stamps, a low not seen since 2008 and one that represented a 40 percent decrease over 12 months…”

SNAP Eligibility System – Illinois

Food stamp benefits disrupted for thousands as state launches new eligibility system, By Greg Trotter, December 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Tens of thousands of Illinois households aren’t receiving federal food stamp benefits leading up to the holidays because of problems with a state computer system. In 2013, the state’s Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system to administer entitlement benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps…”

SNAP and Drug Testing – Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker moving forward with drug testing some food stamp recipients, By Jason Stein, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is moving forward with an effort to drug test some food stamp recipients, with testing expected to begin in as little as a year absent action from lawmakers or the federal government…”

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…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

  • UC Irvine opens expansive food pantry as more college students struggle with hunger, By Teresa Watanabe, September 27, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Ernest Devin Rankin grew up in Anaheim on one meal a day as his disabled parents, who had six children, struggled to stretch food stamps and disability payments. When he got to college, he could only afford the cheapest dining plan, offering 100 meals a quarter. When those meals ran out, he asked friends for help or survived on $1 fast-food burgers, tacos and burritos…”
  • As many students nationwide grapple with hunger, California offers food assistance, By Hannah Harris Green, September 29, 2017, Marketplace: “Students all over the country are back on campus, which means anxiety about new roommates and classes. But new research tells us that a lot of those students also worry about getting enough to eat.  Emaline Friedman is one such student. She shops at the Pavilions grocery store at Melrose and Vine in Los Angeles, because it’s located close to where she lives, and offers a lot of fresh produce and organic food. She’s in Los Angeles taking care of an elderly relative while she writes her psychology dissertation at the University of West Georgia. She relies on California’s food assistance program, called CalFresh…”

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…”

Childhood Hunger – Philadelphia, PA

Childhood hunger in North Philadelphia more than triples, By Alfred Lubrano, September 18, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Stephanie Sakho believes that people who work should have fuller refrigerators than she does. The divorced, certified nursing assistant from Southwest Philadelphia puts in 40 hours a week. But even with her salary and a $300 monthly allotment of food stamps, there isn’t always enough to feed her 10-year-old daughter and year-old son. ‘I think people would be surprised that there are kids in the city not getting enough to eat,’ said Sakho, 28, who makes $13 an hour, near the poverty line for a family of three. ‘I’m working, but people who see me don’t know the refrigerator is empty.’  Sakho’s ‘deeply alarming’ plight is becoming more common, said Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and a professor of health management and policy at School of Public Health at Drexel University…”

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…”

Older Americans Facing Hunger

Hunger receded after the recession but not for older Americans, U.S. figures show, By Peter Whoriskey, August 17, 2017, Washington Post: “Since the recession, many measurements of the U.S. economy improved: The stock market rallied, unemployment fell and the number of Americans worried about getting enough food began to drop. Yet for all that, one important measure has lagged. The proportion of people over 60 deemed to be ‘facing hunger’ – based on their answers to a U.S. Census survey –  has been on a steady climb that began in 2001 and has plateaued but not dropped in recent years, according to a report released Wednesday…”

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…”