Be an Advocate
It Takes More than Food to Fight Hunger
The San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB) focuses on providing emergency food support to individuals and families in need. While putting meals on the table is a temporary "leg up" during a crisis, sometimes hunger and poverty create a cycle that becomes very difficult to break without attacking the causes of the problems that create them. The SAFB is not only committed to providing emergency support, but also to working to address the systemic issues that cause hunger and poverty. We strive to do our part in feeding the hungry and providing support to the many families and individuals that live throughout our sixteen county service area.
2012 Farm Bill
The Farm Bill is an opportunity to get engaged with Advocacy. The House Committee on Agriculture will have its hands full with the reauthorization process pertaining to this vast legislation that focuses on rural counties. In 2010 and 2011, Committee Chairman Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minn) conducted town hall style meetings across the country in order to gather feedback from rural communities. Comments were given in person and online for the legislators to review. They will continue to work towards funding recommendations of vital rural programs ranging from water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, housing, renewable energy, farmers and other economic development initiatives. The Farm Bill truly is a rural development policy mechanism for enhancing America’s interests here at home when it comes to rural communities and areas around the country in terms of nutrition and jobs.
Uncertainty these days up in DC and specifically on the Hill with respect to the 2012 Farm Bill has never been greater! Both the US Senate & US House have been dialoguing on how the Farm Bill will look and how much cuts will be implemented.
The US Congress decided to implement/enact the first farm bill in the wake of the “Great Depression” as the country and rural America reeled from the tough economic times. The Farm Bill was crafted with the idea/concept of supporting US farmers and ranchers while helping them to protect their land. Over time, nutrition program funding has been included in the Farm Bill.
With nearly 50 million Americans struggling to put food on the table spawned by the economic downturn of 2007/2008, coupled with job loss, foreclosures & new faces of Hunger, Food Banks are stretched thin now more than ever. The 2012 Farm Bill is critical to future outcomes for families and individuals in such a big way compared to Farm Bills in the past. With 15.6% of our 16 county service territory overall population being food insecure and 26% of the service territory’s kids finding themselves food insecure, the need for getting involved with Advocacy is huge!
For more information on the Farm Bill visit these websites:
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
During 2010, the USDA reported 49 million Americans were living on the brink of hunger; many were and still are children. We called upon advocates to raise their voices for a more comprehensive Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) policy that we could all be proud of in terms of healthier meals and creating healthier minds for our future.
On December 2, 2010, the House approved the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307). The bill was later signed into law by the President. The passage of this bill is a significant victory for hungry children. It provides $4.5 billion in new funding over the next 10 years to improve children's access to healthy meals; a great new investment in child nutrition programs. This will help children’s access to healthy meals and feeding programs that will ultimately help millions of kids.
We will continue to work with Congressional members and staff to replace the SNAP offset used to partially pay for this reauthorization bill. The President has made a commitment to fight to restore the cuts to future SNAP benefits scheduled to go into effect in 2013. Food banks and other advocacy groups will be calling upon Congress to take action on this issue. The SAFB will follow the lead of Feeding America (national organization of Food Banks) as the federal climate and debate have become more partisan putting proposed cuts on the backs of America’s most vital and vulnerable resource…its citizens.
82nd Texas Legislative Session 2011
With the 82nd Legislative Session in the books, food banks stayed busy by Advocating for the protection of existing funding streams that help us help others. At the start of Session, Texas looked at an $18-25 billion budget shortfall along with redistricting. Session (1 Special Session) proved to be a contentious budget battle in all areas, many of them areas that ultimately impact working families and individuals. The state looked at a $172.3 billion, two year budget that would eliminate $15.2 billion from state and federal spending combined due to the shortfall at the outset. State agencies had to cutback in staffing and programs and school districts faced major cuts as they had to deal with their individual budgets.
In regards to SNAP (formerly known as food stamps); a priority was made by the Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN) to ensure that the application process was simplified and food bank pilot programs continued to work in order to ensure that SNAP benefits continued to remain available to individuals that need them in a timely fashion. In talking with state officials and staff the message of “dollars that local food banks receive from the state assist in connecting hungry families to necessary nutrition that ensures a better quality of life and workforce” was conveyed.
With the demand for food bank programs and services on the rise, it was essential that continued funding and donation availability was well protected. In doing this, keeping the lifeline of emergency food assistance available to all the 19 Texas Food Banks was successful.
Want to do More?
Check back for more information on public policy related to hunger and how you can help.
For additional hunger policy information go to the The Food Research and Action Center website.