Author Archive

Lisa

The Reality of Hunger

Would you consider buying fresh produce or a pound of meat a luxury? For thousands of our neighbors in Contra Costa and Solano counties this is all too often the case.

Meet Melissa. Melissa is a single mom who works full-time. With the high cost of living, she tells us she would not be able to eat without the help she gets from the Food Bank. The food she does buy, she gets solely from the dollar store. She can’t remember the last time she went to a regular grocery store. And meat? Forget about it. That’s a luxury she just can’t afford right now.

Meet Tami. Tami and her fiancé are raising three beautiful little girls all under the age of six and two have special needs. Tami takes care of the children while her fiancé Ed works part-time with a promise of full-time work soon. Tami and Ed started a food pantry at their church. They still volunteer there when they can but the food they receive from the Food Ban is what helps them put food on the table these days. In fact, Tami told us the Food Bank saved Christmas for her family this year.

These are just two examples of real people facing hunger in our community. Your support is changing lives. For every dollar you donate, the Food bank of Contra Costa and Solano can provide two meals to the community. That’s two less meals people like Melissa and Tami have to worry about. Visit our Give Help section to learn how you can help end hunger in our community.

Food Insecurity on the Rise

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is serving nearly 13% more people than we were just two years ago.

Nearly 58 percent of low-income residents in Contra Costa County were food insecure in 2009, California Food Policy Advocates and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report. Was 16 percent two years earlier.

86.5% of clients served by emergency food programs in Contra Costa and Solano counties had income below 130% of the federal poverty level. (That’s less than $ 2,422 a month for a family of four.)

 

Food Bank Friend Joins the Farm Bill Committee

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano would like to congratulate Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) on being appointed to serve as a Member of the House Agriculture Committee. Mr. Garamendi, a lifelong rancher and farmer, will join in bicameral negotiations on the farm bill, which could be voted on by the House in December and includes funding for nutrition programs like SNAP/CalFresh.

“One in four American children struggles with hunger. It’s just plain wrong that the wealthiest country in the world does not feed its children,” said Congressman John Garamendi, a Member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Childhood hunger holds back physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Nutrition assistance provides vital help for these children and families literally struggling to put food on the table. Everyone deserves a shot at the American Dream, and that starts with making sure no child or family in America goes to bed hungry.”

You can help! Urge your Members of Congress to stand strong against cuts to hunger-relief programs like SNAP, TEFAP, and WIC and to protect the charitable tax deduction and food donation tax extender.

Calling Congress is easy!  Here’s how:

  • Call using Feeding America’s toll-free hotline at 866-527-1087.
  • Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted. Connect to your Senators first.
  • Once you are connected to your first Senator, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from. Be sure to give the name of the Food Bank or local agency you are affiliated with.
  • Let them know you are calling about anti-hunger programs and deliver this important message:

I urge you to oppose cutting SNAP and other hunger-relief programs as part of any deal on the Fiscal Cliff and to continue to protect tax incentives to encourage food and fund donations to food banks.  Cutting programs that put food on the table for hungry Americans is not the way to balance our nation’s budget. 

  • Be sure to repeat the process so that you speak with your Representative and both of your Senators.

For more information about how you can help take action against hunger, please contact me (Lisa Sherrill) at (925) 676-7543 extension 206 or email lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

Call Congress Today! It’s Easy!

Today (November 28), Feeding America and other national partners are hosting a national call-in day to mobilize advocates across the country in opposition to cutting hunger-relief programs and protecting tax incentives to encourage food and fund donations as part of a deal on the Fiscal Cliff.

Call in Details:

As Congress debates how to address the looming Fiscal Cliff, we must urge them to do it the right way.  Help us show Congress that cutting programs that help feed struggling families is not the way to balance the budget.

Here’s how:

  • Call using Feeding America’s toll-free hotline at 866-527-1087.
  • Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted. Connect to your Senators first.
  • Once you are connected to your first Senator, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from.
  • Let them know you are calling about anti-hunger programs and deliver this important message:

I urge you to oppose cutting SNAP and other hunger-relief programs as part of any deal on the Fiscal Cliff and to continue to protect tax incentives to encourage food and fund donations to food banks.  Cutting programs that put food on the table for hungry Americans is not the way to balance our nation’s budget. 

  • Be sure to repeat the process so that you speak with your Representative and both of your Senators.

 

Give Back this ‘Giving Tuesday’

Originally posted on the Concord, CA Patch: As the people at Giving Tuesday say, “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals….Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back?”

#GivingTuesday is all about turning our attention toward helping others.

This year #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, November 27th and nonprofits, businesses and supporters from all over the world will take part. It’s about all of us trying to make the world a better place.

What can you do?

  1. Help us spread the word about #GivingTuesday! You can do that right now by inviting your friends and family to share in the celebration of giving.
  2. Choose your favorite cause and make a contribution of time or money on or around #GivingTuesday!
  3. At the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano we always need additional supplies of shelf-stable food, and the holiday season is an excellent opportunity to ask the community to donate the food needed. Safeway and Whole Foods each have an incredibly simple way for people to help. Safeway offers shoppers a $10 bag of food items for purchase. You can buy these $10 bags and drop them in the Food Bank barrels. CBS5 is partnering with Whole Foods Market for their holiday food drive. Customers have the option to buy a $5 Breakfast, $10 Lunch or Dinner, or $25 Full Day Meal for donation at the register. (Meals typically feed a family of four.) Customers may also round out an order and donate any dollar amount.In addition, we ask people to bring other food donations to these conveniently located collection sites.
  4. Text FOODBANK TO 80077 to donate $10.00 to Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Text HELP to 80077 for HELP. Full Terms: www.mGive.org/T.

 

How will you give back this Giving Tuesday?

Today — October 22 — is the last day to register to vote!

We urge you to register to vote in the election on Tuesday, November 6.

If you live in California, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1. REGISTER

2. GET INFORMED

  • Find out what’s on your local ballot at www.smartvoter.org: type in your address to get your polling place and the list of races on your ballot, along with links to candidate statements and summaries of propositions.

3. VOTE!

  • Once registered, go to the polls on or before November 6!
  • If you prefer to vote by mail, request a vote-by-mail ballot from your County Elections Office no later than October 30, and be sure to mail it well in advance of November 6!

 

Take Part in Hunger Action Month

While you’re getting back into the swing of things following the holiday weekend, don’t forget that Hunger Action Month has officially begun. Join anti-hunger advocates from across the country to raise awareness of the 49 million people in the US who face hunger by taking part in Hunger Action Month — a month-long campaign to help end hunger in our country.

Students kicking off Hunger Action month by sorting food.

Everyone can rally for hunger relief by doing these simple tasks this September:

Like the Food Bank on Facebook (www.fb.com/foodbankccs). Share information about Hunger Action Month. Tell your contacts to like us too! During the month of September, ANDREW D MARSHALL DDS AND LYNNE D MARTZ DDS will be donating $1 for every new facebook like they get (up to $300).

Go Orange on September 6 and every Thursday in September. Wear orange on Thursdays in September and hang a Hunger Action Month poster in your business or classroom. Or change your online avatar to one of the Hunger Action Month options on the social media page of our site. Send a tweet in support saying: “I’m going orange for the 1 in 6 people in the U.S. struggling w/hunger. #HungerAction.” Or post to Facebook. If you or anyone you know would like a t-shirt or would be willing to hang a poster please email lsherrill@foodbankccs.org (limited quantities; first come, first served).

Get involved by downloading the Food Bank’s 30 Ways in 30 Days calendar, to find daily ways to make a difference.

To learn more about Hunger Action Month, please visit www.foodbankccs.org/hungeractionmonth.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano would like to thank our Hunger Action Month sponsor: AT&T Pioneers.

 

ABC7 Listens

One of the easiest ways to help a nonprofit is to share their message. Thanks to ABC7 News, many local nonprofits were able to share their mission and needs with decision makers who could get the word out in a big way. ABC7 Morning News Co-Anchor Eric Thomas moderated a town hall meeting at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano in July where local nonprofits conveyed their concerns to an ABC7 executive panel headed by President and General Manager William Burton where they heard about the need and our effect in the community.

ABC7 News provided information on how to access the TV station for news stories and to promote non-profit events. The big issue of the evening was the need for social services in the community.

Stories have already aired as a result of the meeting including a local back to school backpack drive and a social services summit.

Thanks for listening, ABC!

Farm Bill Update: SNAP Cuts Pass House Ag Commitee

From the St. Anthony Foundation blog written by Colleen Rivecca, Advocacy Coordinator: Thanks to everyone who joined in on the national call-in day to support SNAP in the Farm Bill.  Here’s an update on the Farm Bill action from July 11.

On Wednesday, July 11, the House Agriculture Committee voted to accept $16 billion in cuts over 10 years to SNAP (the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”, also known as “food stamps” or “CalFresh” here in California).  A group of Representatives (Reps. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Joe Baca of California, Peter Welch of Vermont, Marcia Fudge of Ohio and Terri Sewell of Alabama) attempted to reinstate $16 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, but their amendment failed on a 15 to 31 vote.

What would the $16 billion in cuts to SNAP mean for California?

  • Put restrictions on the use of “Categorical Eligibility”.  In California, AB 433 of 2008 (one of our Hunger Action Day bills) implemented modified Categorical Eligibility in California, extending CalFresh to individuals whose income is low enough for them to qualify but who have assets (savings, retirement funds) that would make them ineligible.  Restricting the use of Categorical Eligibility in California  would make approximately 177,000 low-income households ineligible for CalFresh.
  • Put restrictions on the use of the “Heat and Eat” option.  In California, AB 6 of 2011 (another one of our Hunger Action Day bills) will, starting January 1, 2013, increase CalFresh benefits by $43/month for about 200,000 California households by allowing them to automatically qualify for a deduction for utility payments.  The Farm Bill amendment to restrict the use of Heat and Eat will limit states’ abilities to automatically allow for a utility deduction.

What happened and why?

SNAP enrollment has risen from 19 million in 2002 to 46 million in 2012.  Those who favor cutting SNAP see SNAP spending as a drain on the economy and are trying to cut costs by identifying what they call “loopholes” used by states to ease SNAP enrollment.  Two of the “loopholes” they’re trying to close are Categorical Eligibility and Heat and Eat. As House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas stated, “SNAP’s resources have been stretched because this administration has encouraged states to take liberties in how the program is administered”.

Anti-Hunger advocates who support SNAP see the program as an important economic stimulus and point out that SNAP enrollment is supposed to rise during times of economic difficulty, when more people are experiencing job loss, poverty, and hunger.  As the economy improves, SNAP enrollment rates will go down.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the share of the population that participates in SNAP will fall back to 2008 levels in coming years and that SNAP costs as a share of the economy will fall back to their 1995 level by 2019.

Anti-hunger advocates see streamlining efforts such as Categorical Eligibility and Heat and Eat not as loopholes, but as tools to reduce administrative burdens on states and on SNAP participants while helping to ensure that hungry low-income people are able to access nutrition benefits.  Categorical eligibility helps low-wage working families with children and seniors with modest savings to qualify for SNAP.   Heat and Eat helps reduce paperwork and allows low-income people who don’t have utility bills in their name, but who still pay utility costs, to receive a SNAP benefit that is above the minimum benefit level of $16 per month.  A cut to Heat and Eat would disproportionately affect seniors, the disabled, and working poor families with children.

Next Steps:

There is still a lot of dissention in the House of Representatives around the Farm Bill.  Although it has passed through the House Agriculture Committee, there doesn’t seem to be much support for the bill in the full House.  The more conservative members of the House would like to see the bill’s price tag cut down further.  The more liberal members of the House don’t like the Farm Bill in its current form because of the SNAP cuts.

To further complicate matters, the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill differs significantly from the House’s version.  It is unclear at this point whether either house of Congress will bring the Farm Bill to the floor for a vote before the current version of the bill expires in September. They may decide to extend the current Farm Bill until the November election and to deal with creating a new Farm Bill at a less politically contentious time.

We will continue to keep you updated on upcoming opportunities to contact your representatives and advocate for a fair Farm Bill that does not hurt hungry people.

Fewer Summer Meals Served Across California

Over 2 million (84 percent) of the children in California who benefitted from federally funded school meals during the academic year were not served by the federal summer meal programs in 2011. The report, School’s Out…Who Ate?, authored by California Food Policy Advocates* (CFPA), ties the elimination of summer school to the loss of affordable, nutritious meals for low-income children.

CFPA’s analysis of data provided by the California Department of Education shows that participation in federal summer meal programs has decreased by over 50 percent in just under a decade. That downward trend is driven largely by a decline in meals served by summer schools.

Beyond children’s health and development, the loss of summer meals also impacts the bottom line. As reported by the Food Research and Action Center, in Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, California missed out on an estimated $34 million in federal funding due to low participation in summer nutrition programs during July of 2011.

School’s Out… Who Ate? includes an analysis of county-level data. In July 2011, 17% and 12% of the low-income children in Contra Costa and Solano counties who participated in free or reduced-price school meal programs during the academic year were served by summer meal programs. This means Contra Costa and Solano counties has the 9th and 13th highest summer meal participation rate among California’s 58 counties.

Across the state, the federal summer meal programs reach fewer children each year and many families continue to struggle in this tough economy. Policymakers at all levels should take action to mend the widening summer nutrition gap faced by millions of low-income children in California.

*California Food Policy Advocates is a statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food.

Senate Passes Farm Bill

The Farm Bill that passed the Senate yesterday preserves the strong structure of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). We commend the Senate for rejecting amendments that would have crippled the program and left millions of people who rely on the program for basic food poorer, hungrier, and unhealthier. The attacks by some lawmakers on the strongest part of the safety net for millions of low-income seniors, working parents and other adults, unemployed families with children, people with disabilities, members of the Armed Services and veterans, and others were outrageous.

Thank you Senators Boxer and Feinstein for voting against the harmful amendments and being two of just 33 senators who stood up to protect SNAP by voting in support of the Gillibrand amendment. Our only wish is that more Senators had done the same as the bill that was passed does contain a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP that will harm large numbers of struggling families. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an estimated 500,000 households a year will lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.

These are real cuts with real consequences – they mean lost meals for Americans who are already hungry. As the Farm Bill moves through the rest of the process, we will work with our elected officials and national partners, FRAC and Feeding America, to produce a final bill with no cuts to SNAP and that preserves the strong structure of the program. No community is free from hunger, and it is time for Congress to tackle this challenge with the urgency the situation demands.

We won’t be able to make a change without your help! Stay tuned for action alerts as the Farm Bill continues.