Summer Sun, Food & Fun: Fresh and Free Meals for Utah Kids

Utah is home to over 878,000 children, and the fastest growing population in the nation, SFP Logo with Fruit Redwhich promises a bright future for our state. However, when schools let out for the summer, over 200,000 of these children lost access to regular school meals. For the households who rely on these meals during the school year, as well as caretakers such as grandparents, family members, and neighbors, summer can be a stressful time. The summer nutrition programs fill this gap by providing free meals and snacks to all children, all summer long!

The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals served in positive community environments. In Utah, there are approximately 250 summer nutrition locations where kids 18 and younger can receive either breakfast, lunch, and/or supper for free. Meals are served Monday through Friday, but vary by location. Some locations are closed on Fridays, while others are open Saturday and Sunday. Participating school districts and nonprofits provide the free meals at schools, parks, libraries, other public agencies, and nonprofits. In 2016, over 1 million summer meals were served in Utah.  There is no registration or application to fill out for kids to participate, all they need to need to do is show up to receive a meal. “The summer nutrition programs are providing nutritious meals to kids in a safe, familiar environment. The majority of the meals served are prepared by the local school district, the same district that provided breakfast and lunch to students all school year,” said Marti Woolford, a child nutrition advocate with Utahns Against Hunger.

Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged. Many sites provide activities throughout the summer. To find out more information about activities, contact the school district the site is located.

Summer nutrition program locations and hours of operation can be found by going online to http://www.uah.org/food-assistance/summer-food/; by calling Utahns Against Hunger at 800-453-3663; or by texting “FOOD” to 877-877.

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‘Double Up Food Bucks’ Stretches Food Stamp Dollars at 23 Farmers’ Markets Statewide

Double Up logo color

Salt Lake City, UT, 6/1/2017 – This week Utahns Against Hunger is launching the third season of Double Up Food Bucks at farmers’ markets and farm stands across the state of Utah. Double Up Food Bucks is a nutrition incentive program that helps low-income families take home affordable fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers. The program works by matching federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps) dollar-for-dollar, up to ten dollars per market day at participating farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets. The matched benefits, known as Double Up Food Bucks, can be used to purchase Utah-grown fruits and vegetables.

Healthy food incentive program benefits low-income families, Utah farmers and local economies.

This season twenty-three farmers’ markets and farm stands will participate in Double Up Food Bucks, in eleven counties statewide. Most of the markets are situated along the Wasatch Front, with locations in Logan, Brigham City, Ogden, Syracuse, Kaysville, Salt Lake City, Murray, Provo, Spanish Fork, among others. Markets in Roosevelt, Park City, Tooele, St. George and Moab are also participating.  Roughly ninety percent of SNAP households in the state live in a county with at least one farmers’ market participating in SNAP and the Double Up program.  Programs like Double Up Food Bucks have helped increase the amount of SNAP benefits spent annually at Utah farmers’ markets by over 1000 percent since 2008.

Brian Emerson, Double Up Food Bucks Program Manager, says that the primary purpose of the program is to increase access to healthy food for low-income residents. “Double Up Food Bucks stretches SNAP recipients’ food budgets while encouraging the consumption of more fresh fruits and vegetable.” Over 3,400 Utah SNAP recipients benefited from Double Up in 2016. The majority of SNAP recipients in the state are either children (53.45 percent), seniors (5.83 percent), or individuals with disabilities (11.77 percent).

fm picSurveyed SNAP recipients who participated in Double Up Food Bucks in 2016 conveyed a sense of gratitude and relief for the program. Sixty-one-year-old Jennifer said that, “The amount of food stamps I get is so low that, without Double Up, I couldn’t survive food-wise.” Cammie, a thirty-seven-year-old mother living in the Salt Lake said that “Double Up really helps stretch my food dollars; it helps me feed my family fresh produce, and I love supporting farmers in the community… We’re grateful for it.”

Emerson says the benefits of the program are broader than increasing access to food. “In short, Double Up Food Bucks is a win-win-win for everyone. The program simultaneously reduces hunger and improves people’s access to healthy food, supports Utah farmers with new customers and more income, and strengthens the community by keeping food dollars circulating in the local economy.”

Research from the first two years of Double Up Food Bucks suggests that the nutrition incentive program works. Researchers from Utah State University evaluated the impact of Double Up Food Bucks on consumer behavior and found that participation in the program was associated with increased consumption of fresh produce, and a reduction in very low food insecurity.

Double Up Food Bucks is active in eighteen other states across the country, from Arizona and Texas, to New York. In 2015 Utahns Against Hunger (UAH) worked with a number of partners to bring the program to Utah, including Utah State University Extension, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the Utah Department of Health, and the Michigan-based Fair Food Network (the creator of the first Double Up program). UAH was awarded a competitive Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant from the USDA in 2015 to implement the program, with matching funds from Salt Lake City Corp, Ally Bank and the Department of Workforce Services. In 2017 Double Up Food Bucks received additional funding support from Intermountain Community Care Foundation and the Utah Department of Health.

The 2017 Double Up Food Bucks season runs June 1 to October 31. Information on the program and a list of participating market locations can be found here, at www.DoubleUpUtah.org, or by calling toll-free 800-453-3663.

 

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President’s Budget Proposes Great Harm to Low-Income Americans

President’s Budget Proposes Great Harm to Low-Income Americans

Statement by Kevin Mass, Board Chair Utahns Against Hunger

PDF version of statement available here.

Salt Lake City, May 23, 2017 – The White House is proposing $1,054 billion in cuts to critical anti-poverty programs, including $193 billion to federal nutrition assistance programs. These proposed cuts in the president’s FY 2018 budget are short-sighted and target the most vulnerable in our communities. While many people have benefited from an improving economy, many have not.  These programs provide a critical safety net to working parents, seniors, and those with disabilities, who are unable to work enough to move out of poverty. Instead of providing support and opportunity, these cuts will push low-income Americans farther down the economic ladder by ripping apart the safety net that provides a path out of hunger and poverty.

Federal nutrition assistance programs are proven and effective. They are vital to ensuring that struggling Americans—including children, adults, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and low-wage workers—get the nutrition they need for their health and well-being.

The vast majority of individuals served by SNAP are under the age of 17 (53.45 percent), over the age of 60 (5.83 percent), or have a disability (11.77 percent). Child nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Summer Food Programs ensure that all children have access to meals that keep them healthy and prepared to learn. More than one in three (35 percent) Utah students participate in free or reduced price meals.

Shredding these programs will have a devastating domino effect on Utahns in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike.  We can expect to see increases in health care costs, decreased productivity in the workforce, and worse academic outcomes for the next generation.

These proposed cuts to the nation’s safety net are unacceptable. Utah’s congressional delegation must stand against these proposed cuts and work across the aisle with their colleagues in Congress. They must return to the historic, bipartisan commitment to protect nutrition assistance programs and reject any budget proposal that leaves Americans struggling against hunger. They must protect these proven and effective programs.

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Utahns Against Hunger is a state-wide anti-hunger advocacy program whose mission is to increase access to food through advocacy, outreach and education.

 

Budget graphic 2

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Official Statement on the American Health Care Act

We are disappointed that all four of Utah’s Representatives voted for the American Health Care Act on Thursday, May 4th. While we do not know the exact effects of the bill yet, because it has not yet been scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it is clear that the bill will create challenges for low-income Utahns.
• The AHCA phases out Medicaid expansion by 2020, which allowed 3,000 to 5,000 low-income Utah parents to become eligible for Medicaid this year.
• The AHCA block grants Medicaid, which historically causes programs to serve less individuals and become less effective, and amounts to an $880 billion cut to Medicaid. Approximately 308,000 Utahns, 12% of the state’s population, rely on Medicaid for their health insurance.
• The AHCA allows states to waive the protections against pre-existing conditions and the essential health benefits requirement. Approximately 1.2 million Utahns have a qualifying pre-existing condition and prior to the Affordable Care Act, women in Utah were charged as much as 15% more than men for the same health coverage.
• The AHCA allows insurers to charge seniors higher premiums, up to five times as much as their youngest enrollees.
• The AHCA will likely raise insurance costs for low-income Americans; 145,000 Utahns currently get financial assistance to help pay for their health coverage.
Health and food access are intrinsically linked. We know that the vast majority of Utahns that are food insecure are children, seniors, and people with disabilities, all of whom will be directly impacted by these changes. Many families that are barely getting by may find themselves facing poverty and food insecurity. If health care becomes more expensive for low-income Utahns, hunger will increase in our state. We join the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the AARP, the American Public Health Association, the National Disability Rights Network, Voices for Utah Children, Utah Health Policy, Project, and many other Utahns in opposing the AHCA and ask Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee to vote against it.

Gina Cornia
Executive Director, Utahns Against Hunger

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Love Ut Give UT

Today is Love Utah Give Utah, a statewide day of giving! This year, Even Stevens Sandwiches has provided us with a $1,000 match grant. Donations will help support all of UAH’s projects and allow us to better advocate for food access. Donate here!

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UAH on the HEAL Utah Podcast

Gina Cornia, the Executive Director for Utahns Against Hunger, joins Matt Pacenza on the HEAL Utah Podcast to discuss UAH’s work fighting to limit food insecurity in Utah. Gina discusses the groups that face the biggest hunger problem and the barriers that prevent people from accessing benefits. Gina and Matt discuss some of the solutions that would alleviate food insecurity, something that 1 in 8 Utah households deal with, such as a state level Earned Income Tax Credit. They also discuss the sales tax on food proposal, which Utahns Against Hunger and other groups successfully defeated this past legislative session. They end discussing changes in the Salt Lake City’s homeless shelter locations.

Episode #73: Gina Cornia, Utahns Against Hunger

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Call for Applications: Utah Double Up Food Bucks

Utahns Against Hunger is now inviting SNAP-authorized farmers markets and farm stands to apply to participate in the 2017 Utah Double Up Food Bucks season, expected to run from June 1 – October 31.

Double Up Food Bucks

Double Up Food Bucks

Double Up Food Bucks is an innovative healthy food SNAP incentive program that helps low-income residents take home more fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. The program works by matching Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”), dollar-for-dollar, up to ten dollars per market day at participating farmers markets and farm stands across the state of Utah.

In addition to increasing access to healthy food, small farmers gain new customers and more income, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. In short, the program is a win-win-win. (Click here to download a summary of Double Up’s positive impact during the first two seasons).

Last year Double Up was offered at twenty-one farmers markets and farm stands in ten counties across the state. Utahns Against Hunger expects over twenty markets to participate again in 2017. The 2017 season will run from June 1 through October 31.

How to Apply

Farmers markets and farm stands can apply to participate in Double Up by submitting an online application. Download the Application Guide HERE for instructions and a link to the online application form.

Application deadline: March 24, 2017

Questions?

Please direct any questions to Brian Emerson, Double Up Food Bucks Manager, emerson[at]uah.org or call 801-328-2561

 

 

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Utah School Breakfast Participation Increases by 7.7%

BIC infographicThe annual School Breakfast Scorecard released was released this week by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC, a national anti-hunger advocacy group). The Scorecard ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the participation of low-income children in the School Breakfast Program, and finds that 65,246 low-income children in Utah participated in school breakfast on an average school day in 2015–2016. This represents an 7.7% percent increase over the previous year.

The national School Breakfast Program makes it possible for all school children in the U.S. to receive a nutritious breakfast every school day.

The report finds that 38 low-income children in Utah ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2015 – 2016 school year. This is below the national average of 56 low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch in the 2015–2016 school year.

School breakfast participation nationally has been growing, and several strategies exist to increase it further, including the use of alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go,” and second chance breakfast. Utah’s increased school breakfast participation rank can be linked to an increase in alternative service models across the state. In spite of  this increase, Utah continues to be ranked 51st in the country, and this can be attributed in large part to the lack of widespread implementation of alternative service models across the state.

“We are committed to increasing school breakfast participation so that more children in Utah are starting their day with the nutrition they need to learn and thrive” said Marti Woolford, child nutrition advocate, Utahns Against Hunger. “School breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children. We will continue to work with schools across the state to improve our school breakfast participation rate so even more children can focus on learning, and not on their growling stomachs.”

FRAC Top 10 States Based on Percentage Growth Table

About the School Breakfast Scorecard

This report measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program in the 2015–2016 school year — nationally and in each state — based on a variety of metrics, and examines the impact of select trends and policies on program participation. On an average school day, 12.1 million low-income children participated in the School Breakfast Program in school year 2015–2016. Participation among low-income children increased by just over 433,000 students, or 3.7 percent, over the previous school year.  Read the School Breakfast Scorecard in full.

About School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts

This report examines School Breakfast Program participation rates and trends in 73 of America’s largest school districts. These districts saw a net increase of 101,548 students eating school breakfast in school year 2015–2016, compared to the prior school year. Two-thirds of the districts expanded their school breakfast participation from the previous school year. Read School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts in full.

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Volunteer Oppertunity

UAH is proud to partner with the Utah Food Bank and the Salt Lake City Public Library System to bring Kid’s Cafe to the Main Library. The Utah Food Bank prepares nutritious meals each weekday that are served free of charge to all children up to 18 years old. Starting March 6, SLC Main Library will begin providing meals from 3-4 pm, along with enrichment activities. This helps kids who might otherwise go to bed hungry.

Kid’s Cafe is currently looking for volunteers to set up, serve food, clean up, and help run activities. Volunteers shifts are available weekdays from 2:45-4:15 pm, no ongoing commitment is required. If interested, contact Christina Walsh with the Salt Lake City Public Library System at cwalsh@slcpl.org. A background check is required to work with children.

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Don’t Mourn, Mobilize

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Concerned about hunger under the Trump administration? Worried about the future of our safety net programs? Don’t know what to do?

In President Trump’s administration many of Speaker Paul Ryan’s dangerous anti-poverty proposals are likely to be adopted, including cutting food stamps, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and gutting Medicaid. These actions will leave many Americans without the programs and benefits that they need to survive. This may be the biggest threat that the American safety-net social programs have ever faced.

Millions of Americans depend on these programs; join the movement to protect them!

Come meet other people engaged in this work and learn what is at stake, practical advocacy that makes a big impact, and what you personally can do to defend federal anti-hunger programs.

  • When: Tuesday, December 13 at 5:30-6:30 PM
  • Where: Utahns Against Hunger 764 South 200 West, SLC 84101 (enter through door on 200 W).
  • 15380357_10155555000508852_5821564901866485834_nEvens Stevens will provide dinner; please RSVP by 12/9/16 at 3:00 pm with the Eventbrite link for food.

 

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