SNAP & the Farm Bill

Congress passed the new Farm Bill on February 4, 2014. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday, February 7th. The Farm Bill includes $8.55 Billion in cuts to SNAP over the next 10 years. The cuts will come from changes to “Heat and Eat” programs operated in 15 states and Washington, DC. North Carolina does not have a “Heat and Eat” program, so the SNAP benefit cuts included in the Farm Bill will not affect NC households that receive SNAP.*

The states affected by the cuts include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. As many as 850,000 low-income households in these states and Washington, DC will lose an average of $90 in monthly benefits.

Read Feeding America’s response to the Farm Bill here, and the response by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) here.

Read a summary of the Farm Bill compiled by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities here.

*In North Carolina, SNAP is known as Food & Nutrition Services (FNS).

Cuts to FNS on the horizon

Cuts to Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) are scheduled to go into effect on November 1, 2013, resulting in an average benefit of about $1.40 per person per meal. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, North Carolina will experience $166 million in cuts during fiscal year 2014.

The cuts to FNS will come at a particularly difficult time for low-income North Carolinians. The state currently has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country. And, recent reductions in unemployment benefits are expected to impact 170,000 unemployed adults in the state during the second half of 2013.

Read more about the looming cuts to FNS in a report by the NC Justice Center.

*Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) is known as SNAP at the federal level.

Food & Nutrition Services boosts fruit consumption

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that Food & Nutrition Services (referred to as SNAP by the federal government) boosts consumption of whole fruit.  Click here to access the full report.

Food & Nutrition Services is helping during slow economic recovery

An article in the Huffington Post states that SNAP (or FNS, as it’s known in North Carolina) is helping low-income households recover from the Great Recession.  While the recession technically ended in June 2009, recovery has been slow for many low- and middle-income households.  Unemployment remains high in North Carolina (9.4% as of February 2013, one of the highest unemployment rates in the country).  As NC Policy Watch has reported, many of the jobs created in North Carolina since the end of the recession have been in the low-wage service industry.  As a result, many households continue to need the extra support that Food & Nutrition Services provides.  Historically, as households feel more financially secure, FNS participation decreases.

 

 

FNS helps working people

North Carolina food banksWorking a full-time job in America doesn’t guarantee you will have enough to eat.  Food & Nutrition Services (known as SNAP at the federal level) helps families who need help buying food.  Despite helping more than 47 million people during these challenging economic times, Congress is considering cutting funding for this important safety net.  Read the full article at Yahoo/Takepart.com.

ATM supports EBT program at Carrboro Farmers’ Market

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The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is increasing access to fresh, local produce for FNS households.  For the past several years, the market has encouraged FNS households to use their EBT cards at the market.  The market recently installed an ATM machine, and fees from the machine are funding the EBT program.  Read the full story from The Herald-Sun.  Read about a proposed bill to expand EBT acceptance at farmers’ markets at North Carolina Health News.

USDA visits NC State Farmers’ Market

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon visited the State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh this week.  Increasingly, more and more farmers’ markets throughout the country are accepting EBT cards, benefitting both FNS households and local farmers.  A new grant opportunity will make it possible for 4,000 additional farmers’ markets to begin accepting EBT cards.  Read an article from the News & Observer, and click here to watch a short video featuring Under Secretary Concannon.

Alleghany County residents impacted by food insecurity

veggiesoup_550pxAlleghany County residents are feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy.  For these residents, knowing where their next meal will come free or even when they might eat again is a difficult reality.  Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina works with community groups in Alleghany County to help address this problem, known as food insecurity.  Food & Nutrition Services, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, also serves to alleviate food insecurity.  However, in Alleghany County, only 44% of persons eligible for Food & Nutrition Services are enrolled.  Participation among seniors is even lower, 27%.  To read the full article in The Alleghany News, click here.

Food Bank employee’s efforts highlighted

Emily Kraft, an employee with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, provides FNS outreach in New Hanover County.  Emily explains the program and helps households with the FNS application.  Her efforts were highlighted in a recent article in the Star News.

Ashe County DSS recognized for FNS outreach

Ashe County Department of Social Services (DSS) was awarded a Hunger Champion Award by the U.S Department of Agriculture earlier this year. The award was in recognition of the county’s efforts to help households enroll in Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) (formerly the Food Stamp Program). The outreach efforts were part of a year-long partnership between Ashe County DSS and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. To read the full article, click here.