September 4, 2019
FRAC On the Move is a series that follows FRAC’s policy and program experts as they connect with advocates across the country to explore strategies and develop solutions to end hunger.
In this installment, Alex Ashbrook, FRAC’s director of special projects and initiatives, talks about participating on a panel at the 2019 UnidosUS Annual Conference, SNAP At Risk: How We Can Keep Our Kids and Families Healthy. Alex was joined by Sue Vega, the senior programs manager for Alivio Medical Center’s Get Covered Illinois programs, and Cynthia Kaser, the chief community programs development officer for La Maestra Community Health Centers. The conference, held in San Diego, California, convened thousands of attendees interested in social change, particularly for the Latinx community.
The 2019 UnidosUS Annual Conference drew more than 3,000 attendees, including five presidential candidates and a cross-section of leaders, experts, elected officials, and advocates committed to addressing the issues and policies that matter to Latinx people across the country.
One legislative achievement celebrated throughout the conference was the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, a declaration of policy that reaffirms Congress’ longstanding bipartisan support for protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — the nation’s largest federal nutrition assistance program. During the panel discussion, I applauded UnidosUS affiliates for helping defeat proposed 2018 Farm Bill measures that would have worsened hunger by taking food off the tables of low-income people.
Eighteen percent of Latinx households experience food insecurity, compared to 11.8 percent of all households, highlighting the need for advocates to ensure that federal nutrition programs remain a crucial line of defense against hunger for millions of Latinx children, older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, and working families. While the 2018 Farm Bill preserves access to the nutritional, health, economic, and other benefits provided by SNAP, there’s still more work to be done to ensure vulnerable households, including those in the Latinx community, do not experience food insecurity.
During the panel, I encouraged advocates to mobilize against threats to U.S. food security, including the Trump administration’s multiple attacks on SNAP access:
- The administration has gutted decades of longstanding “public charge” rules that exempted participation in programs like SNAP and Medicaid from being considered in public charge determinations, thereby circumventing the will of Congress as embodied in the Farm Bill; and
- The administration has proposed a new rule that would eliminate SNAP’s “broad-based categorical eligibility” option, resulting in 3.1 million people losing SNAP benefits (including low-income working families with high childcare and housing costs, and older adults and people with disabilities with modest assets) and 500,000 children being stripped of access to automatic free school meals.
With the other two panelists, I lifted the importance of SNAP in addressing Latinx hunger, making the need to safeguard the program clear. Sue Vega described how connecting people to SNAP is a critical component of her work to address diabetes, and Cynthia Kaser detailed how her organization helps families access the program and eat healthy via UnidosUS’ Comprando Rico y Sano initiative. I shared how SNAP is public policy at its best, as the program provides a range of positive outcomes for the health, nutrition, learning, and economic security of millions of people at all stages of life.
At the end of the panel, attendees were encouraged to elevate the Latinx voice. and advocate for sound anti-hunger policy by submitting comments against harmful administrative rules, spotlighting stories on how the federal nutrition programs help Latinx and other households. and partnering with trusted community members to share accurate and timely information on opportunities to improve U.S. food security. Those actions are key to achieving the goal of ensuring no one goes hungry.
Ready to act to reduce hunger, including within Latinx communities? Take a few minutes to submit a comment opposing the Trump administration’s new proposed SNAP rule!
Click to Tweet: #FRACChat: 18% of Latinx households experience food insecurity, compared to 11.8% of all U.S. households. At the 2019 @WeAreUnidosUS Annual Conference, @fractweets expert Alex Ashbrook shared strategies for reducing those rates. Read more: bit.ly/2lBGDBG