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Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Utahns Against Hunger’s goal is to make sure all children are healthy and have access to healthy food. With one in five households with children in Utah experiencing food insecurity, there is plenty of work to be done. The child nutrition programs are intended to ensure children can get healthy and nutritious food where they live, learn, and play. These programs are doing a good job in providing healthy meals, but their reach can be improved, particularly in states like Utah where our population is more dispersed.

Senate: On January 20, 2016, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. The legislation would provide a five-year reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expired Sept. 30, 2015, and govern the national school lunch and breakfast programs.

Below are a few of the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 provisions we support:

  • Allows Summer Food sponsors that are not schools to provide meals and snacks to children after school during the school year through the Summer Food Service Program.
  • Provides Summer EBT benefits to low-income households with children.
  • Provides states the option to increase the age of eligibility for children to receive benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)–eligibility will end at age six rather than at the fifth birthday, with the exception of children participating in full day kindergarten.
  • Provides states the option to certify infants for two year eligibility periods in the WIC program.
  • Protects the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving children’s health and the school nutrition environment.
  • Allows the option of an additional snack for children in child care for nine or more hours a day.
  • Simplifies eligibility for proprietary (for-profit) child care centers by extending the length of certification periods.

The provision we believe could be better:

Summer EBT:

  • The benefit is limited to states that choose to offer Summer EBT and have implemented WIC EBT systems.
  • Utah plans to implement WIC EBT by the 2020 deadline, which will result in Utah children living in rural parts of our state not having access to summer nutrition.
  • There are only approximately 295 WIC vendors in Utah compared to the approximately 1417 SNAP vendors.
  • The benefits are also limited to a small number of children, beginning with a national total of 235,000 in 2018.

The provision we do not support:

Process for Verifying School Meal Applications:

  • In an effort to strengthen program integrity, the percentage of school meal applications required to be verified is shifted to a sliding scale starting at a floor of three percent and extending to a ceiling of 10 percent of applications.
  • Utahns Against Hunger is concerned that increasing verification requirements will inevitably cause some eligible students to lose access to free or reduced price school meals. One of the primary ways that students currently lose school meal benefits is failure to respond to follow-up requests for additional income information.

House: On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the House Education and Workforce Committee marked up Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016.” The bill marked up by the Committee now includes a three state school nutrition block grant demonstration provision that would eliminate the federal government’s commitment in those three states to providing nutritious breakfasts and lunches to low-income children at school and move the programs in a dangerous direction. This is in addition to the bill significantly weakening the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), increasing the already burdensome verification requirements, and failing to address shortfalls in the summer food program.

Utahns Against Hunger strongly opposes this bill. The additional ill-considered provisions in this bill would roll back years of progress. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has written a summary of the most concerning provisions in the bill.  Read it here.

As the reauthorization process moves forward, UAH will be meeting with Utah’s House members to ask them to vote against this harmful bill.

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Utah Legislative Session 2015

The Utah State Legislative Session begins on Monday, January 26, 2015 and we have been busy reviewing bills and budgets to see where our time and attention need to be focused. Here are the bills we are following:

Senate Bill 17-Employment Act Revisions (Sponsored by Senator Shiozawa)

This bill revises the Employment Support Act by:
• updating language;
• restructuring sections and parts;
• amending definitions; and
• adding cross-references;
▸ amends assessment and counselor assignment provisions of the Family Employment Program; and makes technical changes.

We support this bill; however since this opens the entire code that directs the Family Employment Program, the possibility of amendments being introduced is high.  UAH will be watching and working with DWS and other community advocates to oppose any amendments that would negatively impact work support programs.

Senate Bill 42-General Assistance Program Changes (Sponsored by Senator Escamilla)

This bill provides that money refunded to the Employment Development Division through an assignment of support shall be retained by the division and may be used by the  division for the General Assistance program under certain circumstances; and  makes technical changes.

We support this bill. The money that is recouped from the federal government for those who received General Assistance currently goes into the General Fund.  DWS has been actively trying to make this happen for years.  The state recoups about $700,000 each year.

Senate Bill 47-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Sponsored by Senator Christensen)

This bill amends the definition of “new federal funds” to include federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds greater than a certain amount over the amount approved by the Legislature; removes federal funds requests related to the TANF program from the list of federal funds requests that are exempt from the provisions of the Federal Funds Procedures Act; and  makes technical changes.

We oppose this bill because it would require DWS to get permission from the Executive Appropriations Committee to accept TANF, and would give the Committee much more control over those funds.  It increases the administrative costs, and creates more bureaucracy, and reduces flexibility.  DWS is working with sponsor and legislative staff on a more reasonable approach.

Senate Bill 84- Federal Nutrition Standard Exemptions (Sponsored by Senator Osmund)

This bill would allow school districts to sell food during the school day that does not meet new nutrition standards.

We oppose this bill.

In process-Intergenerational Poverty Amendments (Sponsored by Senator Osmund)

This bill has no text. We will monitor this bill.

Here are the budgets we are following:

Emergency Food Network Funding

We support preserving funding at $300,000.

Qualified Emergncy Food Agencies Fund

We support preserving funding at $900,000.

Utah Legislative Session 2013

2/15/13 – “Leaders say food tax hike appears to be dead” – Salt Lake Tribune

Tonight’s House Votes Could Result in Millions Losing SNAP/Food Stamps – 12/20/12

The House is slated to vote tonight (Thursday, Dec. 20th) on two bills that would slash funding for programs supporting low-income families.

Immediate Action Needed Today:
Call – 202-225-3121 (Capitol Switchboard) – or email your House Member and urge him/her to vote AGAINST Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” and the Mulvaney amendment, H.R. 6684, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 – a bill that would drastically cut SNAP and other programs supporting low-income families.
Or call their office directly
Representative Bishop           202-225-0453
Representative Chaffetz         202-225-7751
Representative Love               202-225-3011

The second vote is on H.R. 6684, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012, offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC).  This bill is virtually identical to the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 (H.R. 5652), legislation introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and passed by the House this summer. This bill would result in deep cuts in SNAP, Medicaid, Child Tax Credits, and other programs supporting low-income families.

Background on SNAP Cuts Contained in H.R. 6684, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012:

  1. Eliminates on February 28, 2013, the SNAP benefit boost contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) reducing benefits for all SNAP households.
    1. Impact on Utah  – Eliminating the boost in benefits would mean the average Utah household would receive $53 dollars less in benefits.
  2. Reduces FY2013 funding for employment and training programs.
    1.  Impact on Utah – Employment and training dollars are already scarce and reducing this funding will make it even more difficult for those need to enhance their skills to increase their employability- especially in light of the recent action by DWS to impose time-limits on able-bodied adults without dependents.
  3. Eliminates state SNAP coordination with LIHEAP payments.
  4. Restricts the state Categorical Eligibility option to change asset and gross income tests.
    1. 1.8 million individuals per year could lose SNAP benefits (CBO).
    2. 280,000 low-income children could lose free school meal access.
  5. Eliminates  administrative cost sharing to states for certain employment and training programs.
  6. Eliminates indexing for the nutrition education and obesity prevention grant program.
  7. Eliminates state bonuses for effective SNAP operation.

Thanks to the Food Research and Action Center for much of the above info.

Comment on Rules for The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to all students in participating schools.  The goal of this program is to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables children consume, create healthier school food environments, and positively impact the nutrition of not only the students but their families. Elementary schools with at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price meals can apply to participate in FFVP. Top priority is given to the schools with the highest proportion of free and reduced-price eligible students.

Food and Nutrition Services currently has rules for this program open for public comment until April 24th, 2012.

Comments are due April 24th, 2012.

A model letter written by Food Research and Action Center is available to use if you decide to submit comments. If you would prefer a word document, please email cornia@uah.org. Please let us know if you submit comments so we can track the responses by emailing cornia@uah.org.

HB 155 – Drug Screening for TANF

HB 155 Factsheet
(posted 3/1/12)

H.B. 155 passed the House on March 1st.
We are opposed to it and are talking to Senators about it.  (3/6/12)

November 15, 2011
Congressional Spotlight:  Call-In To Protect SNAP and Other Safety Net Programs

Call-In Days:  Call the toll-free number 888-907-1485 on November 15th through 17th to reach Members of Congress and urge them to protect safety net programs.  The toll-free number has been provided by AFSCME.

Budget Message:  Protect SNAP, child nutrition programs, and other safety net programs for low-income and vulnerable people from budget cuts by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee).   A balanced approach to reducing the deficit must include revenues.

Background on Deficit Reduction Process:  SNAP, school meals and most other low-income entitlement programs would be exempt from across-the-board cuts if Congress fails to pass the Super Committee’s plan by December 23rd, but are potentially at risk in a Super Committee plan.

Ag Appropriations:  For details on FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations measures (H.R. 2012), go to the FRAC website’s Legislative Action Center.

October 19, 2011

Urgent Action: US Senate to vote on eliminating categorical eligibility for SNAP (food stamps)

The US Senate is set to vote on the Agricultural Appropriations today- there is an amendment #810- that would eliminate categorical eligibility-this policy helps states have flexibility and eases administrative barriers for people to access the Food Stamp Program. Call Senator Hatch and Lee today and ask them to vote against Senator Sessions amendment #810

Senator Orrin Hatch:

Washington DC office (202) 224-5251
Salt Lake office (801) 524-4380
Ogden office (801) 625-5672
Provo office (801) 375-7881
Cedar City office (435) 586-8435
St. George office (435) 634-1795

Senator Mike Lee:Washington DC office 202-224-5444Salt Lake office (801) 524-5933St. George office (435) 628-5514

October 6, 2011

Action Needed: Protect SNAP, CN and Other Safety Net Programs from Budget Cuts

Urgent! Ask Your House Member to sign onto the letter circulated by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) urging protection for SNAP and other low-income programs in any deficit cutting scenarios.

Food Research Action Center letter

July 8, 2011

Sign-on Letter Opposing the Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)

The House and Senate are likely to vote on proposals to add a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution in July.  The House now expects to act during the week of July 18th and the Senate vote during that week as well.

Both proposals would force extreme cuts in federal spending as the means of balancing the budget.  We are very concerned that Members of Congress will vote for them because it sounds “responsible” to balance the budget.

But the truth is these proposals would CUT essential programs like Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP/food stamps in half within 10 years.  Medicare would have to be turned into a voucher, and spending for key programs like housing, education, child care, Head Start, public health, veterans’ health care, environmental protection, health research, food and water safety, and many others would be slashed by 70 percent.  A constitutional balanced budget amendment would also cause significant harm to the economy, making recessions both deeper and longer.

STATE AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS:  Please sign this letter so your Members of Congress know you want these reckless changes to the U.S. Constitution defeated.
To read the full text of the letter with signers as of July 7, click here.

Background:  The BBA measures that will be considered in the House and Senate are “extreme”  because they would cap total federal spending at 18 percent of GDP (total federal spending was just under 24 percent in 2010) and would require that any measure to raise revenues be adopted by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate.  Such a stringent cap would require cuts even deeper than the House-passed budget, which limits spending to 20 percent of the GDP and includes massive cuts such as slashing more than $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) over 10 years, plus $600 billion in additional cuts to Medicaid from repealing the Affordable Care Act.  (The proposal to restrict total spending to 18 percent comes from the very right wing Republican Study Committee, and they get there through the extreme cuts listed above.)

The extreme versions are not likely to pass.  But we can’t take that for granted.  The last time the BBA was debated in the Senate in 1997, it fell just one vote short of passing.  There is a very real risk that less extreme but still destructive constitutional BBA could pass this year unless Members hear from people back home.

Many Members have never voted on this issue.  Any Member who has not voted needs to get a strong message that any version of a BBA is unacceptable.

These votes also give us an opportunity to go back to Members of the House and Senate who supported a less extreme but still destructive version of the BBA in the past and urge them to oppose this version.

More than 140 national organizations have signed onto the attached letter urging Congress to oppose any BBA.  Many state and local organizations have asked to sign on as well – we hope you will join them.

Please join the effort to defeat the BBA and sign the addendum to this letter by noon on Wednesday, July 13th.

Please note:  only organizations should sign the letter.  Click this link ONLY if you are authorized to sign for your organization.

Additional Background:

CBPP: Balanced Budget Amendment Would Require More Extreme Cuts Than Ryan Plan:
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3508

CBPP: A Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment Threatens Great Economic Damage:
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3509

House Budget Committee Democrats Report (.pdf) – ‘Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment is Guise to Push the Republican Budget Agenda’ – http://democrats.budget.house.gov/doc-library/FY2012/062711BalancedBudgetAmendmentreport.pdf

New York Times: More Folly in the Debt Limit Talks:

See the full text of the letter with signers as of July 7 by clicking here.

July 5, 2011

Deficit Discussions Continue as Deadline Nears – Advocates Must Weigh in NOW with the White House to Protect Safety Net Programs — Including SNAP/Food Stamps and Child Nutrition

The Senate cancelled this week’s July 4th recess to concentrate efforts on negotiating a deal with the White House and House leadership on the debt-ceiling/deficit reduction package. Anti-hunger advocates must elevate the potential devastating impacts these negotiations can have on low-income programs.  Email/call the White House this week to urge President Obama to protect SNAP/Food Stamps, Child Nutrition and other safety net programs.

Call or e-mail the White House (President Obama and Vice President Biden).  E-mail or call toll-free: 1-888-245-0215.  Click here for more info and a template email.

Message:  Any deficit reduction plan must protect programs for low-income families and individuals – particularly key supports like SNAP/Food Stamps and Child Nutrition — and must also include new revenues. The plan should reduce poverty and help disadvantaged people, even as it attempts to shrink the deficit.  Low-income assistance programs, like SNAP/Food Stamps and Child Nutrition, must be exempt from any caps and automatic across-the-board cuts which could be triggered when budget targets or fiscal restraint targets are missed.

Participate in the July 6th White House Twitter Town Hall
In addition to emailing or calling the White House, you can participate in its Twitter Town Hall. The President will answer questions based on the popularity of a subject, so we have joined with Feeding America to get our question answered during the debate.  Please tweet this message to your followers: “I’d like to #askObama his plans to protect low-income safety net programs during #budget debates & work to #endhunger in US RT”.

For more information about the Twitter Town Hall, follow us at @fractweets or contact Betsy Edwards.

Please weigh in immediately and share this alert widely among your network and contacts to demonstrate support for responsible long-term deficit reduction through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts that do not harm low-income and vulnerable people.

-passed along from our friends at FRAC (Food Research and Action Center)

Summer Food

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Click here to find where your child can get free meals this summer
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