Ending Hunger in WNC
How Public Policy Impacts Food Security
MANNA FoodBank has long relied on a balanced public and private partnership to get food out to needy families in WNC. When our public resources are reduced, it impacts our day to day operations.
On the federal level a tax incentive for charitable food donations is also under threat. The charitable giving tax deduction provides a vital incentive to encourage giving to nonprofit organizations, including MANNA and many of our partners. Proposed changes to the charitable tax deduction, such as limitations on the deduction for specific taxpayers, are likely to result in a drop in giving at a time when food banks are struggling to serve people trying to feed themselves and their families. Since its inception in 1976 and expansion in 2006 to include small businesses, this tax provision has proven to be an effective way of encouraging companies to donate excess nutritious food.
MANNA FoodBank is asking our supporters to also be our advocates, as we confront the challenges that have the potential to discourage the charitable giving that we rely on.
Let your federal legislators (find them by clicking here) know that you’d like to extend the charitable food donation provisions to encourage donations to food banks and the MANNA network.
Thanks for your support and your voice!
“When it’s cold, you want to make sure you have enough food in the house”, says Renae Brame, Director of Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries Food Pantry in Black Mountain. “When bad weather comes, people rush to the grocery store, well, we are like a grocery store for some.”
Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries is not alone in feeling the pressure of cold weather. Here and across the nation, food banks and pantries are noticing the strain that extreme weather places on vulnerable populations. An article from npr explores the topic further:
Anti-hunger organizations say the unusually low temperatures are sending heating bills through the roof, cutting into the food budgets of many families struggling to get by. That means food pantries are bracing for more hungry people from their communities coming through the door in the weeks to come.
“By next week, I expect we’ll see record levels of people coming into our member agencies,” Ken Kupchick, director of marketing and development for the River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith, Ark., tells The Salt.
In the short term, Kupchick’s food bank is scrambling to make sure the 200 or so food pantries that serve the hungry in the surrounding communities know to call the food bank if they run out of supplies. His bank, which buys food with cash donations and rescues food from chains like Wal-Mart and Darden Restaurants, can help pantries restock essentials when they run out.
Kupchick says that ever since some of the funds for food stamps that went to families in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program expired in November, the pantries his group supplies have seen a 6.5 percent increase in the number of clients coming in.
Ross Fraser, spokesman for the national organization Feeding America, says food banks all over the country are stretched pretty thin, but it’s the ones in rural areas that are really struggling to serve a far-flung population of hungry people.
For people who aren’t regular donors to their local food bank and want to help, Fraser recommends donating money over food. “Food banks can buy food in huge quantities at a lower price – we can get three cans of [beans] for what a consumer pays for one.”
If you do want to take food to the local food bank, Fraser recommends canned meats, such as tuna, chicken or fish, as well as peanut butter. These are among the most expensive foods with the longest shelf lives – so retailers are less likely to donate them. Soups and stews, rice, pasta and oatmeal are also welcome, Fraser says. ( read the full article )
November 1, 2013 marked the start of a reduction in SNAP benefits (called FNS in North Carolina and formerly known as food stamps) for all SNAP recipients. Congress voted in 2010 to rescind early a temporary SNAP benefit boost provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The SNAP ARRA cut will cause a family of four to lose $36 per month from their maximum benefits starting in November, a loss of $432 over the course of the year. These cuts directly impact our neighbors in need in Western North Carolina as well as our food retailers.
For instance in Buncombe County, for the month of November it is estimated that the county lost $240,204 in food sales through FNS / SNAP benefits. That also represents a loss of 92,803 meals to our neighbors in need, just in Buncombe County. The loss for our whole service area, 16 counties in Western North Carolina, is 336,882 meals.
To make up for this reduction in SNAP benefits, we would have to increase our food distribution by 40% just to maintain the level of emergency food relief that we have been providing.
Aside from the ARRA cuts, a congressional conference is now in proceedings to decide the budget of the Farm Bill. The levels of SNAP cuts being negotiated range from $4 billion to $40 billion. MANNA FoodBank strongly opposes any additional cuts to the nutrition safety net.
Together, the meals lost from the ARRA cuts and the proposed farm bill cuts could exceed the total annual meal distribution by MANNA FoodBank as well as Feeding America food banks around the country. Following a 46 percent increase in demand during the recession, food banks are already struggling to meet the need in their communities and will be unable to make up the difference. Charity can’t make up for lost SNAP meals. Congress must protect SNAP in the farm bill.
What can you do about it?
Donate money, food or time to MANNA.
Together We Can Solve Hunger.
Politics and Food Security – October 2013
The food safety net for the most vulnerable Americans is subject to the public policy of the day. The last month has been packed with news on how MANNA and our community has dealt with the impact of our changing public policy landscape.
THANK YOU! if you helped speak out and advocate for those experiencing food insecurity. We cannot let our most vulnerable citizens suffer in silence.
MANNA FoodBank is capable of weathering a bumpy political season. None of our services have been disrupted that would impact on our neighbors in need. We strive to stay ahead of the news cycle and prepare for surges in need as they come up.
Federal and State government actions have impacted MANNA directly, but our network of volunteers and sound fiscal management allow us the flexibility to continue our important work without disruption.
Advocacy and Public Policy – September 2013
Thursday the House passed the nutrition portion of the Farm Bill (HR 3102), cutting $39 billion from the food stamp program (also known as SNAP in the federal budget). WNC Reps. Mark Meadows and Patrick McHenry voted for the bill.
In addition to cutting food stamps, a provision was included that would cause the nutrition portion of the Farm Bill to expire two years prior to the Agriculture portion of the bill. The effect of this earlier than usual expiration time would be a continued separation of the nutrition and agricultural parts of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill has historically been a bill that ties nutrition and agriculture issues together.
The House and Senate will appoint conferees – people to work out the differences between the two versions of legislation that were passed. The conference committee will have to produce a bill that can pass the House and Senate. The Senate’s already-passed farm bill calls for cutting the program by about $4 billion. The resulting cuts to SNAP are likely to be between $4 billion and $40 billion.
Food Banks are Concerned
The food banking community is understandably concerned about these cuts – the charitable response to hunger cannot make up for cuts of this size. With a $40 billion cut, 4-6 million people would lose their SNAP benefits entirely, 210,000 children would lose free school meals and 850,000 households would lose an average of $90/month in SNAP benefits.
These new funding cuts would come on top of already scheduled SNAP benefit reductions that will impact all SNAP participants starting in November 2013 (called ARRA cuts).
Together, the meals lost from the ARRA cuts and the proposed farm bill cuts would exceed the total annual meal distribution by Feeding America food banks around the country. Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger relief organization; MANNA is a part of Feeding America’s network. Following a 46% increase in demand during the recession, food banks are already struggling to meet need in their community and will be unable to make up the difference. Charity can’t make up for lost SNAP meals. Congress must protect SNAP in the Farm Bill.
Last week we encouraged you to call your House member to let them know that you care about families struggling to put food on the table.
It may be too late to register your opinion to impact the vote at this stage of the process, but if the conference committee can craft a compromise bill, the vote will return to both the House and Senate for a vote. So stay tuned!
It is never too late to learn the facts about food stamps, or let your Representatives and Senators know how your feel about the SNAP program and the impact of their vote.