The weekly Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) News Digest highlights what's new on hunger, nutrition and poverty issues at FRAC, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around the network of national, state and local anti-poverty and anti-hunger organizations, and in the media. The Digest will alert you to trends, reports, news items and resources and, when available, link you directly to them.


Issue 21, May 28, 2004
  1. Nationwide Events for National Hunger Awareness Day, June 3, 2004
  2. FRAC's Afterschool Guide Available Online
  3. Kids Count Data Book to be Released June 3, 2004
  4. Victory Elusive for War on Poverty, 40 Years Later
  5. Administration Plans Cuts to Most Federal Agencies in 2006
  6. Vitamin D Deficiency Appearing in Children, the Elderly, and Women
  7. Texas: Looming Cuts for Neediest Families
  8. Ohio: Push Under Way to Provide More Food for Children
  9. Connecticut: Schools Working Towards Healthier Kids
  10. California: Working Families Need Public Aid to Get By, Study Finds
  11. Pennsylvania: School Breakfast Programs Increasing Across State
  12. Pennsylvania: Food Stamp Enrollment Good for Supermarkets
  13. New York: Hunger Hotline Is Imperfect Solution
  14. Alaska: Rural School District Cuts School Meal Program

1. Nationwide Events for National Hunger Awareness Day, June 3, 2004

(America's Second Harvest, 2004)

The third annual National Hunger Awareness Day is June 3rd. Food banks, anti-hunger groups, food-rescue organizations, soup kitchens, food pantries, individuals, faith-based organizations, and businesses have organized events in communities across the country to raise money and awareness, volunteer their time, and give food to fight hunger. Find an event in your community or ways to participate by visiting the link below.

http://www.hungerday.org

2. FRAC's Afterschool Guide Available Online

(Food Research & Action Center, May 2004)

The Food Research and Action Center posted a new Afterschool Guide: "Nourish Their Bodies, Feed Their Minds" on the FRAC website. The resource guide provides afterschool and summer programs with detailed information on how to participate in the federal child nutrition programs, why and how to draw down federal funds for good nutrition in these programs, and how to add nutrition education to programming. The document is available for download:

Report (PDF): http://www.frac.org/Afterschool_Guide.pdf

3. Kids Count 2004 Data Book to be Released June 3, 2004

(Annie E. Casey Foundation, June 2004)

The Annie E. Casey Foundation will release its Kids Count 2004 Data Book on June 3rd. The resource provides a state-by-state look at the well-being of children, as well as state rankings on 10 key indicators in education, health, and economic conditions. Individuals may receive the publication at no charge or view it online beginning June 3rd.

http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/databook/

4. Victory Elusive for War on Poverty, 40 Years Later

("The hard times never left," Washington Post, May 20, 2004)

President Johnson, in introducing his War on Poverty in May 1964 in western Maryland, said being poor means "waiting in a surplus food line rather than in a supermarket checkout." Forty years later, families and working families, such as those in rural and Rust Belt areas, are still relying on food pantries. In Lonaconing, Maryland, the food line "stretches from the social hall of the Assembly of God church to the railroad tracks." In line are residents of all ages: men, girls, young mothers, and grandmothers. Average earnings for production workers are lower in real dollars than 40 years ago, according to Sheldon Danziger of the University of Michigan. Almost three-quarters of U.S. families with incomes below twice the federal poverty level experience at least one serious financial hardship in an area such as food, rent or mortgage payment, health care, or child care, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41222-2004May19.html

5. Administration Plans Cuts to Most Federal Agencies in 2006

("2006 Cuts in Domestic Spending on Table," Washington Post, May 27, 2004)

A May 19th White House budget memorandum distributed this month to federal agency officials said they should assume cuts to almost all domestic programs, including education and homeland security, if the President wins reelection. Any spending increases would have to be offset by cuts in other accounts. The budget office printout lists such cuts in 2006 as $122 million less for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and $177 million reduction to Head Start. A White House spokesperson described the memo as a routine "process document" that simply begins the budget process.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58762-2004May26.html

The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities has published an analysis of the President's prior budget documents which estimates larger cuts than those suggested in the Washington Post article above, amounting to a 5.3% reduction from 2005 to 2006 to domestic, non-homeland security discretionary spending, adjusted for inflation.

http://www.cbpp.org/2-5-04bud.htm

6. Vitamin D Deficiency Appearing in Children, the Elderly, and Women

("Vitamin D Deficiency Called Major Health Risk," Washington Post, May 21, 2004)

"Disturbingly low" levels of vitamin D have been found in a number of populations, particularly in children, the elderly, and women, according to various studies. Pediatricians across the country are surprised at seeing an unusual number of children with rickets, a bone disorder caused by vitamin D deficiency that was largely considered a relic of the past. The cases are mostly among breast-fed babies and African-American children because breast milk contains little of the vitamin, especially among women with darker skin or little sun exposure. The American Academy of Pediatrics has instructed pediatricians to prescribe vitamin D supplements for children, particularly breast-fed infants. People may get the vitamin in some foods and vitamin D fortified milk, but people are not getting an adequate amount through their diets.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43711-2004May20.html

7. Texas: Looming Cuts for Neediest Families

("Carlos Guerra: Will savings come from frustrating the weakest Texans?" San Antonio Express-News, May 23, 2004)

The state's poor, disabled, and elderly residents are anticipating cuts to programs that help them. A Texas House bill merged 11 agencies into four, cut benefits, and reduced others. In March, the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recommended laying off 57 percent of the agency's 7,864 employees and closing over half its 381 field offices, replacing them with for-profit phone banks. Emma Bedoy, a community services worker, said using call centers will take a "huge toll" on Texans receiving public assistance, who may have difficulty navigating a phone system. Celia Hagert, an analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, is not convinced the savings will occur because the report makes "aggressive assumptions," such as counting on "all the community organizations...to offer volunteer help." The savings will really come from reducing access, meaning "quite a few people will simply stop getting the services," says Bedoy.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA052304.1B.guerra.f1f037e0.html

See also: "Who You Gonna Call," Texas Observer, May 21, 2004
http://www.texasobserver.org/showArticle.asp?ArticleID=1655

8. Ohio: Push Under Way to Provide More Food for Children

("Push under way to provide more food for children," Toledo Blade, May 23, 2004)

The Children's Hunger Alliance of Ohio has reported on the large numbers of Ohio children not receiving federal nutrition benefits. CHA's CEO Bill Dolan said "We still have a long way to go on this...We need to bring more federal dollars home." The picture is similar in Michigan, according to FRAC's new report, State of the States. States and localities need to work harder to increase participation, anti-hunger advocates say. FRAC, CHA, and other anti-hunger organizations are calling on Congress to improve federal legislation governing child nutrition programs. With a "modest" federal investment in these programs, fewer U.S. children would go hungry and "these programs could do a better job," said Ellen Vollinger of FRAC.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040523/NEWS08/405230342/-1/NEWS

9. Connecticut: Schools Working Towards Healthier Kids

("Schools now taking a keen interest in what kids eat," The Day, May 23, 2004)

Schools throughout Connecticut are becoming part of the fight against childhood obesity. They have instituted such changes as revising snack policies, discouraging fundraisers with candy, and encouraging healthy foods at parties. Cafeterias are serving limited a la carte items. Healthier choices such as salads and low-fat milk are becoming more popular. A recently passed state bill requires schools to provide healthy foods, physical activity in elementary schools, daily recess, and at least a 20-minute lunch period. Lucy Nolan, of End Hunger Connecticut!, believes the bill helped codify public schools' responsibility against childhood obesity. Nicole Woo, senior policy analyst with the Food Research and Action Center called it a "good, comprehensive bill."

http://www.theday.com/eng/web/news/re.aspx?re=a3a9a429-c803-47c8-8971-77f030b627fd

10. California: Working Families Need Public Aid to Get By, Study Finds

("Half of state aid benefits working poor, study says," San Diego Union Tribune, May 20, 2004)

Half of California's $21.2 billion spending for welfare, health insurance, and eight other social service programs, goes to assist working families, based on a report by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California Berkeley. The Berkeley study estimates that currently, taxpayers are "basically subsidizing businesses to the tune of $10 billion," says Donald Cohen of the Center on Policy Initiatives. Cohen cites growing inequality as "the problem with [California's] economy." To mitigate the growing gap, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and other cities have passed measures that set a salary higher than the state's minimum wage for certain jobs. The Berkeley report estimates that if wages rose to $8 an hour, the state would save $2.7 billion on public assistance, and $5 billion with wages at $10 an hour. The programs that were studied for the report included food stamps, tax credits for the poor, school meals, nutrition education, and childcare subsidies.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20040520-9999-1n20poor.html

11. Pennsylvania: School Breakfast Programs Increasing Across State

("Schools offer breakfast to give students a hearty start," Penn Live, May 21, 2004)

Pennsylvania does not require its schools to provide school meal programs. Nevertheless, all of the state's schools offer lunch and an increasing number of schools, such as Sara Lindemuth Elementary, are providing breakfast. Since the breakfast program began a month ago there, teacher Sue Stouffer notices that students are "more alert, not lying on their desk or complaining that they're hungry." In offering breakfast, districts wish to dispel the myth and stigma that the program is only for low-income children. At Sara Lindemuth and five other Harrisburg schools, children pick up bags with breakfast from insulated containers that are delivered to classrooms, winning the district a "star performer" award from the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center. Sue Mitchem, of the anti-hunger group, said schools have a growing understanding of the importance of good nutrition and that is producing an increase in breakfast participation. "I made a push for breakfast [because] every time before special achievement tests, teachers wanted to make sure breakfast was offered. I felt if I give them breakfast every day, they'll always be ready. And since then, I've heard there are less visits to the nurse's office...discipline in the morning has improved, and there is less tardiness," said the Harrisburg food service director.

http://pennlive.com/news/patriotnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1085131249308680.xml

12. Pennsylvania: Food Stamp Enrollment Good for Supermarkets

("Food-stamp enrollment good for supermarkets," Philadelphia Daily News, May 18, 2004)

The governor is wisely directing money for grocery stores in Philadelphia's underserved areas, says Sydelle Zove, Advocacy Coordinator for the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. However, the supermarkets will need customers to stay in business. Therefore, more of the city's residents should be encouraged to apply for the food stamp program, urges Zove. According to a recent estimate, 65,000 of Philadelphia residents are missing out on food stamp benefits for which they are eligible. Increased participation in the food stamp program would bring roughly $51 million to the local economy in additional food purchases a year.

http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/opinion/8693463.htm

13. New York: Hunger Hotline Is Imperfect Solution

("Hunger Hotline info gives Gotbaum pangs," New York Daily News, May 25, 2004)

A hunger hotline for New Yorkers is giving callers incorrect information on topics such as how to get food stamps and operation hours of food pantries. City Harvest used to staff the hotline with operators, but the city converted to an automated phone service when its Human Resources Administration took over a year ago. When Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's staff tested the hotline 167 times between November 13 and December 12, it gave incorrect information on the hours of pantries and soup kitchens 45 percent of the time. Joel Berg, executive director of the the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said an automated system is impractical.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/196620p-169828c.html

14. Alaska: Rural School District Cuts School Meal Program

("To teach or to feed?" Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 24, 2004)

The high cost of shipping food to its rural villages forced the Yukon Flats School District to cut the school meal program from next year's budget. Only two Yukon Flats schools are accessible via road. The district is located in northeastern Alaska, with all of its schools in rural villages. The district had been spending about three times its state and federal reimbursement. The school board and administration called the decision "agonizing." The cut will affect mostly low-income parents who will "have to worry about paying the extra money for food," said Annette Gilbert, chairwoman of the Local School Advisory Committee.

http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,1413,113~7244~2168582,00.html

____________________
To subscribe to the weekly FRAC News Digest click here:
http://capwiz.com/frac/mlm/

To unsubscribe to the weekly FRAC News Digest, send an e-mail to
frac_list@capwiz.mailmanager.net with the word "unsubscribe" in the
subject line.

Helen Yuen
Food Research and Action Center
1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 540
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 986-2200 x3019 phone
(202) 986-2525 fax
Email: hyuen@frac.org

Home | Donate to FRAC | Subscribe for Updates | Hunger in the U.S.
About FRAC
| Child Nutrition | Food Stamps | Legislative Resources
Building Blocks Project
| Campaign to End Childhood Hunger
Publications
| News Archives | Links | Site Map