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).

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.

Radio program discusses debate over cuts to food stamps

National radio host Diane Rehm recently spoke with anti-hunger and policy experts about proposed cuts to food stamps (known in North Carolina as Food & Nutrition Services).  To hear the discussion, click here.

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.

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.

Food Hardship Worsens in North Carolina

A recent report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) reveals that North Carolina ranks 6th in the nation for food hardship, a downward trend from the state’s ranking as 9th in the nation in 2009.  Among the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with the highest food hardship rates, Winston-Salem, Greensboro-High Point, and Asheville ranked 3rd, 4th, and 7th, respectively.  These numbers highlight the importance of federal nutrition programs, such as Food & Nutrition Services, as well as the role that food banks play in addressing the hunger needs of North Carolinians.  Read the full report here.

New Hanover County makes it easier for households to apply for FNS

New Hanover County Department of Social Services (DSS) recently installed computer kiosks in their lobby so households could check for eligibility and begin completing the application for FNS benefits.  Now, while applicants wait to speak with a DSS worker, they can begin the application process, which saves time for both applicants and DSS workers.

Other NC counties, including Orange County, have also taken this innovative step to make the application process easier.  Read the full story from WECT.

FNS helps keep families above poverty line

A new report by the Census Bureau reveals that 14.3% of Americans live in poverty, or 43.6 million people.  For individuals age 18-65, the poverty rate is the highest its been since the 1960s, when the federal government launched a number of “War on Poverty” programs.  Experts claim that government safety net programs, such as Food & Nutrition Services, have helped keep households above the poverty line.  Read the full Associated Press article.

Benefit Bank helps NC families get FNS benefits

Benefit Bank of NC has helped thousands of families claim almost $1.7 million in FNS benefits this year.  Using trained counselors located throughout the state, Benefit Bank assists families with the FNS application and other programs including Medicaid, FAFSA, and tax credits.  Read the full article from the News & Observer.