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Tag ‘ TEFAP ’

Working To Ensure Food Programs Reach All Those In Need

Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has direct food distribution programs and we work with nearly 200 nonprofit agencies that feed people in our local communities. The Food Bank is committed to fighting hunger and more than likely you have witnessed our efforts firsthand. There is a good chance that you have seen the food donation barrels around town. And perhaps you have seen a Food Bank banner at a community event or have seen the delivery trucks on the road? You might have even seen us in action if you have come to one of our two warehouses to drop-off donations or volunteer your time. It might be surprising to learn that one of the most important ways the Food Bank helps the hungry individuals in our society doesn’t take place in the public’s eye. Advocating for food and hunger related issues and policies are a crucial part of helping those we serve.

The national organization that we are affiliated with, Feeding America, partners with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) to bring food banks and advocates together in Washington DC each year.  It is a chance for us to communicate with our elected representatives, so they understand the food issues we see in our communities.  We are grateful that in Solano and Contra Costa counties, our elected officials have a good understanding of what causes hunger.  It is important that we share real-life stories with these policy-makers about the people we see. They, in turn, can help others understand the challenges people face trying to get assistance from federal food programs.

In some instances, we advocate for programs that directly impact our ability to provide food.  The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides the Food Bank with food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  We receive millions of pounds of food as well as administrative funds that allow us to provide food to the agencies we serve. We also provide this food directly to people who come to our Food Assistance Program.

The Food Bank realizes we need to help carry the message to elected officials that there are many Californians that legitimately experience food insecurity. The CalFresh program provides benefits to eligible low-income Californians. CalFresh is the first line of defense against hunger, providing food assistance to low-income children, seniors and disabled individuals.  Because so many people need food assistance, this program is a significant part of the budget and Congress often looks to cut programs like CalFresh.

The Food Bank recognizes that our distribution programs only address part of the public need and that the behind-the-scenes work we do to influence public policy is vital.  There is no doubt that the Food Bank plays a significant role in helping people in need, as we distributed 20-million pounds of food just in the last year.  However, people also rely on CalFresh, school lunch, Meals on Wheels and TEFAP.  We need to do our part to ensure that all these programs get the appropriate funding, so the most basic of needs, such as providing your body nourishment, can be a reality for all.

Urge Your Senators to Vote YES on the FY2012 Minibus Appropriations Bill

On Tuesday, November 1, the Senate is scheduled to vote on passage of package of bills, which includes the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Among those programs funded by the Agriculture Appropriations portion of this bill are the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP),  and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (See below for additional background information.)

Thanks to calls and emails last week to the Senate from anti-hunger advocates across the country, we were successful in stopping the consideration of several harmful SNAP-related amendments, and successfully defeated an amendment offered by Senator Sessions that would have eliminated categorical eligibility for SNAP. (SNAP is the federal name for the Food Stamp program. We call it “CalFresh” here in California.) But, the work is not done yet! Now, we need to show grassroots support for passage and urge every Senator to vote YES to pass this bill.

Call Today!
Use Feeding America’s toll free number to help us track our impact. Just dial 1-877-698-8228 to be connected directly to both of your Senators and deliver the following message: “I urge Senator [Boxer OR Feinstein] to vote YES on passage of H.R. 2112, the Minibus Appropriations bill which contains the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation.”

Keep up the Pressure through Social Media!
After you call, you can further amplify your voice by posting your message on your Senators’ Facebook pages (Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein). Be sure to include your zip code in your message to let them know you are their constituent and simply urge them to vote YES on H.R. 2112, the FY2012 Minibus Appropriations Bill. We must use all of the channels available to let our elected officials know we are watching their votes closely!

Additional Background Information
While the Senate-passed bill didn’t contain every provision we were hoping for, on the whole, this bill is better funded and far superior to the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation passed by the full House back in June. As the House and Senate look to conference their two bills in order to develop a final FY2012 Agriculture Appropriation, nutrition programs will be in a far stronger position if the Senate can negotiate based off of a bill that passed after a vote by their full membership. Details of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations are below are below.
•         TEFAP Commodities:  Mandatory funding for TEFAP food commodities is provided at $260 million. This funding reflects the mandatory funding level of $250 million, as established by the 2008 Farm Bill, plus an adjustment for food price inflation. This amount is $13.5 million more than was provided in FY2011 and $60 million more than is provided in H.R. 2112.
•         TEFAP Storage and Distribution Funds: Funded at $48 million, this is $1.5 million less than was provided in FY2011, but $10.5 million more than is provided in H.R. 2112. As in past years, a provision is also included in the bill that allows states, at their discretion, to transfer up to 10% of the value of their commodity allocation — $26 million in total — into TEFAP Storage and Distribution funding.
•         WIC: WIC is funded at $6.582 billion. This is $152 million less than was provided in FY2011, but an increase of $581 million over the amount provided in H.R. 2112. According to the WIC Association, this level of funding should be sufficient to fund participation in the program in FY2012.

If you have any questions about these programs or this bill, please contact me at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

Leave us a comment and let us know which action you took.

Agriculture Appropriations Bill Hurts Food Assistance Programs

The 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill the House narrowly approved threatens our ability to help hungry people in our community by cutting food assistance for children, seniors and food banks.

The House passed these cuts as one in five Californians report being unable to afford enough food. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is now serving over 132,000 people every month, an increase of 46% (between 2006 and 2010). Serving Contra Costa and Solano counties in the San Francisco Bay Area with 175 partner agencies, the Food Bank will have distributed more than 14 million pounds of food over the last fiscal year by July 1 of this year. U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities provided through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are one of the most nutritious sources of shelf-stable food available for distribution and constitute about 16% of the Food Bank’s food resources.

Food banks across the country are experiencing similar trends. Existing cuts to social services at the state and county levels have already stretched resources beyond capacity. If enacted, these federal cuts will make meeting the increased need in our community impossible.

Hunger is a non-partisan issue. Hopefully, the Senate will not uphold these draconian cuts to our country’s nutrition safety-net. We urge you to contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein and insist that they fight to prevent food assistance funding from being decimated.

Take Action!
Tell your Member of Congress “I oppose the recently-passed House cuts to emergency food programs because the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of those struggling with hunger”. Not sure who your representative is? Find them by visiting www.house.gov.