03.13.17 Estimated 229,000 Floridians , mostly children and including seniors, to be denied food stamps
In a partisan clash, a key House committee voted Wednesday to deny food stamps to an estimated 229,000 Floridians, most of them children and including seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill (HB 581) by freshman Rep. Frank White, R-Pensacola, that would restore income eligibility for households for food stamps to 130 percent of the poverty level, the minimum level set by the federal government. The household income standard was raised to 200 percent of poverty following the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, which expanded the population eligible for food stamps. Florida remains one of 43 states with that broader eligibility standard.
The panel's chairman, Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, said the bill is needed to reduce food stamp fraud by verifying applicants' eligibility. To make his case, he described seeing people in grocery stores in Miami with "a Mercedes key chain and their SNAP card," a reference to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that provides nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families.
Anecdotes are often deployed when the subject of public assistance is discussed. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted in 2013, when he was in the Florida House, that he saw a woman with back tattoos using her public assistance card at a Publix. "(Retweet) if you support entitlement reform," Gaetz told his followers. That same year, Fox News aired a segment that went viral about a California surfer who bought lobster with his food stamps. Ronald Reagan popularized the idea of the welfare queen in 1976.
But research shows those receiving public assistance live more frugally than those who don't. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average total expenditures in 2011 were more than twice as high for families not receiving assistance, $66,525, compared to $30,582 for families who do.
Elaborating later about his anecdote with Capitol reporters, Trujillo said: "I'll never forget" seeing a woman shopper at a Sedano's Supermarket at S.W. 8 Street and S.W. 51 Avenue in Miami. "I'm not sure if she was buying food for her grandmother but it seemed to me like it was all her own stuff," Trujillo said. "I think there's a lot, a lot of abuse in South Florida."
Asked when he saw this happen, Trujillo said it was "soon" after he married. According to his bio page on his law firm's website, he wed in 2007.
Florida has consistently received bonuses from the U.S. government for having one of the lowest food stamp error rates of any state, according to a House analysis of White's bill. Through 2014, the state had received bonses for seven straight years, totaling $54 million.
The change being considered by the Legislature would deny eligibility to an estimated 229,311 recipients, or 6.8 percent of the current statewide total, beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The federal program is officially known as SNAP, for Supplemental Nutrition Assstance Program. Those who would still be eligible would receive $400 a year less a year in food stamps, Trujillo said.
"I think every tax dollar is sacred," White told lawmakers. "We should spend those tax dollars as if they are our own."
For a family of four, 130 percent of poverty is equal to a monthly family income of $2,633, and 200 percent of poverty is $4,050 a month, or about $48,000 a year. In November 2016, 3.3 million Florida individuals were enrolled in the food stamp program and 1.8 million of them were children, according to a House analysis.
Before the bill passed on an 18-9 party-line vote, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no, GOP members were largely silent during debate while Democrats railed against the legislation.
"Let's not be taking food off people's tables," said Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park.
"Food is a basic need, and hunger is a real problem," said Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami.
Said Rep. Bobby DuBose, D-Fort Lauderdale: "We're picking winners and losers when we're dealing with folks who are low income. At the end of the day, poor is poor."
State data shows that even as the economy strengthened in recent years, the number of food stamp recipients outpaced population growth: 18.5 percent of Floridians were on food stamps in 2015.
The cost of the food stamp program is borne by the federal government but operational costs are shared between the feds and states. White's bill includes a $300,000 grant to a private vendor to make technology changes to computers at the Department of Children and Families to verify applicants' assets to reduce fraud. During a testy exchange, Trujillo chided Democratic Rep. Lori Berman for the way she framed her questions. "'People being hurt' is a subjective opinion," Trujillo said.
by Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
09.16.2016 Feeding South Florida's 2nd Annual Happy Harvest Breakfast Set For Wednesday October 26th, 7.30 am.
Feeding South Florida's Happy Harvest Community Partner Breakfast is an annual event recognizing those who are committed to helping us achieve our mission of ending hunger in South Florida.
Because of their support, Feeding South Florida has been able to provide 41 million pounds (34 million meals) of food to those in need throughout South Florida.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 Feeding South Florida
Doors Open: 7:30 a.m. 2501 SW 32 Terrace
Program Begins: 8:00 a.m. Pembroke Park, FL 33023
EMCEE KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Ellen Jaffe Denise Hatton
Easy 93.1 R.C. Hatton Farms
$25 per ticket by Monday, October 24
$35 at the Door
*Table and sponsorship packages available
HONOREES: Visit our website for a complete list.
For more info, click here
09.09.2016 : Child Hunger Summit
If you work with or care about children you will not want to miss the 2016 Child Hunger Summit hosted in Sarasota, Florida. The startling costs of child hunger and its impact on health, education, workforce readiness and the community, will be presented by nationally recognized authorities, including Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip.
Gain new insight into child hunger screening and awareness of how collaboration leads to improved responses to child obesity, under-nutrition and other diet related health conditions.
Florida Surgeon General, Celeste Philip, MD, MPH is the keynote speaker, and other distinguished speakers include:
American Academy of Pediatrics, Immediate Past President, Sandra Hassink, MD, MS, FAAP
Pew Charitable Trusts, Kids Safe and Healthful Foods Project Jessica Donze Black, RD, MPH
Author and Child Nutrition Expert Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
For more info, click here
For more information about the Child Hunger Summit, contact Jenna Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-549-8127.
To sponsor the 2016 regional Summit, contact Denise Cotler at email@example.com or call 941-315-7671. Click here for a PDF of the sponsorship levels and recognition.
07.25.2016 : Hunger in Florida
The signs of hunger are not always visible. Some people struggle just to put enough food on the table. Others can’t afford the nutritious the foods that help to prevent diet-related health problems like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Our goal is to feed and nourish our neighbors in need while providing other resources that help them to live healthy and productive lives.
Florida currently has more than 3.4 Million residents, including 1.1 Million children, who are food-insecure. As part of Feeding America – the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity - our Florida network participates in surveys and studies that reveal the areas and populations that have the greatest risk of hunger. This information helps us to focus our hunger relief efforts as well as measure our progress. To solve hunger, we need to be efficient and take a strategic approach. These tools equip our network to make impactful and significant changes in the lives of our neighbors in need.
06.20.2016 : Making a Difference: Harry Chapin Food Bank providing millions of meals for those in need
"And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon." That's a line from "Cat's in the Cradle," a folk-rock song by the late Harry Chapin which topped the record charts in December 1974.
For our purposes, "silver" and "spoon" are the operative words. You see, Chapin was passionate about his music but also about the fight against hunger, having donated the proceeds from many of his concerts to hunger-related causes dedicated to feeding the hungry in our country who were born without a silver spoon in their mouths.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida has a 33-year history, and a direct connection to Chapin going back to 1994 when a food bank board member and friend of the late singer received permission from Chapin's family to use his name.
And despite a recovering economy, the need is still great. Beatrice will tell you that. The Immokalee resident stands in line in the heat with about 200 families at a mobile pantry at Pinecrest Elementary School on a regular basis but she says she doesn't mind the heat. She works hard, cooking, cleaning and waiting tables but can't seem to make enough to feed her family. So the pantry provides what she can't. "It's good. It's helping," she says.
Should you wish to help, know that for every dollar donated, 97 cents goes to food programs and distribution. Harry Chapin Food Bank President and CEO Richard LeBer tells us that "for every $1 invested in our people, facilities and equipment, we provide $6 worth of food to agencies serving hungry Southwest Floridians."
To learn how you can help, call 239-334-7007 or visit www.harrychapinfoodbank.org.
While Harry Chapin is no longer with us, his family is. They, along with his original band, hold an annual concert benefitting the food bank which bears his name on Boca Grande each July.
06.06.2016 : Food Bank to serve meals for children at 35 sites throughout Treasure Coast
The Treasure Coast Food Bank plans to serve meals to children and teens 18 and under from June 6 through Aug. 12 at 35 sites in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
This year's goal is to provide 300,000 meals to children in need. Last year, the food bank and its partners provided 200,000 meals.
The food is available to all children and teens 18 and under for free. There are 35 sites in the program, and each will offer two of three options: breakfast, lunch, or a snack. The meals will feature sandwiches and wraps, salads and fruits.
The program is supported in part through donations, which can be made through www.stophunger.org.
To find meal sites, or get information on how to become a meal site, visit www.stophunger.org and click on the Summer Feeding Program under the "Programs" tab.
05.15.16: "End Summer Hunger Sort-A-Thon" to help feed hungry children, set for June 18, 2016.
Feeding South Florida counts 280,630 children in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties who need food assistance. Many rely on breakfast and lunch through the National School Lunch Program. But during summer break, they are at risk of going hungry.
Volunteers can join in the second annual “End Summer Hunger Sort-A-Thon” to help make sure these children have access to food. The event will be June 18 and you can sign up now, for 2½-hour shifts from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., to help sort donations. The event will be at the Feeding South Florida Main Warehouse at 2501 SW 32 Terr., Pembroke Park. To register, visit http://feedingsouthflorida.force.com or call 954-518-1818.
There is no fee and this is a popular volunteering event so it is best to register early. Individuals and groups are welcome. Note that no children under the age of 12 can participate, and an adult must accompany teens under 16.
“The End Summer Hunger Sort-a-Thon helps fill a critical need in our community during the summer by ensuring that children who rely on breakfast and lunch through the National School Lunch Program throughout the school year, will have that same access to food during the summer months when school is not in session,” Feeding South Florida President and CEO Paco Vélez said in email. “Feeding South Florida is the largest and most efficient food bank in the area. For every $1 donated, we can provide six meals.”
05.08.16: Empty Your Pantry drive nets thousands to aid food bank programs
In its fourth year, the Palm Beach Daily News’ Empty Your Pantry food drive reached new heights as a record $12,000 was collected.
“Thanks to the generosity of this community, we are helping put food on the table for thousands of county residents,” said Timothy Burke, publisher of the Palm Beach Daily News. “We’re grateful to our donors and our partners, the Town of Palm Beach United Way and Palm Beach Fire-Rescue, for making this our most successful food drive ever.” The Glades Initiative and Feeding South Florida split 1,994 pounds of non-perishable goods April 29, as well as each receiving a $6,000 check. The Daily News partnered with the Palm Beach United Way and Palm Beach Fire-Rescue to collect donations. Because it has a fleet of trucks and is part of a national network of food banks, Feeding South Florida can provide six meals for every $1 donated, according to its website. So $6,000 is a huge help, said Sari Vatske, vice president of community relations. “It can help us provide food for 36,000 meals for those struggling to put food on the table.”
05.04.2016: Study Shows 13.7% of SouthWest Florida Residents Struggle With Hunger
A new study shows that 13.7 percent of Southwest Floridians are food insecure — 163,840 people, including 54,870 children. The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America that details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the United States. Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Using county data from the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, Map the Meal Gap 2016 is the first Map the Meal Gap report with post-Great Recession county food-insecurity estimates.
“Together with our agencies, we are the largest hunger relief network in Southwest Florida,” said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “Our network has enormous reach within the five counties we serve, and allows many of the hungry in our community to receive food. Large as our network’s impact may be, we still have a large opportunity to ensure that our hungry neighbors receive enough food to satisfy their needs, and to ensure that the food is nutritious and available where and when it’s needed.”The report finds that in Southwest Florida:
• 24.7% of children are food insecure, compared to 24.9%, or 1,007,870, children statewide.
• Glades County residents experience the highest level of food insecurity: 16.4%, or 2,423 people, including 730 children, or 30%.
• 25.9% of Charlotte County children, or 5,760, are food insecure.
• 23.2%, or 14,600, of children in Collier County are food insecure.
• 27.7% of children in Hendry County, or 2,970, are food insecure.
• 24.9% of children in Lee County, or 30,810, are food insecure.
• In South Florida, 22.2% of children in Palm Beach County, or 60,340, are food insecure.
Map the Meal Gap 2016 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity. This year’s report found that in the U.S. nearly 15 percent, or about one in seven people, struggles with hunger at some point during the year. While the rate has decreased since 2011, the prevalence of food insecurity across counties remains historically high since 2008, and has not yet returned to pre-Great Recession levels. “This new research documents the pervasiveness of hunger in every community in our nation. While the economy has improved and unemployment rates have declined, many people are still struggling to access adequate amounts of nutritious food for their families,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America.
The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. This is the sixth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank, an affiliate of Feeding America, solicits, collects and stores food for distribution to families and others in need through a network of more than 160 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Glades counties that provide food to more than 30,000 people monthly. The Harry Chapin Food Bank distributes more than 1 million pounds of food each month. In fiscal year 2015, the food bank distributed 18.4 million pounds of food and other grocery items valued at more than $31.3 million. This is the equivalent of 15.3 million meals to people in need.
09.01.2016 : Hunger Action Month
Hunger exists in every county in the U.S., affecting 48 million Americans including 15 million children. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks believes that hunger IS solvable and we’re leading the fight to end it. We are asking everyone in America to take action to fight hunger in their community, all month long.
Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, volunteering or donating, you can find the way that’s right for you to make a difference during Hunger Action Month. Together, we can solve hunger. Click here to join the battle!
08.15.2016 : Teens and Hunger
According to analysis of data from Hunger in America 2014, there are approximately 6.7 million youth ages 10 through 19 among the 46.5 million individuals who receive assistance from the Feeding America network each year. To date, limited research has focused on teens’ experience with food insecurity, while service providers often report challenges in reaching teens through existing child hunger programs.
Themes that emerged from the focus groups include:
06.15.2016 : Publix Partners with Produce for Kids for Healthy Eating Campaign to Benefit Feeding America
The healthy eating-focused Produce for Kids® campaign with Publix Super Markets launches June 2 and will raise funds for local Feeding America member food banks and offer Publix shoppers healthy meal solutions, recipes and tips. The 2015 campaign was able to supply more than 2.2 million meals* to local families in-need. To date, the Produce for Kids and Publix partnership has raised more than $2.7 million to benefit local charities within the six-state Publix footprint.
For more information about the Publix and Produce for Kids campaign, visit http://www.produceforkids.com/publix.
*Each $1 donated to the national office of Feeding America during the 2015 campaign provided 11 meals. Produce for Kids and Publix secured $206,845 (2,275,295 meals) through the overall campaign period of March 1, 2015 to February 28, 2016.
06.09.2016 : Community partnerships to feed hungry children this summer
The familiar phrase "it takes a village" is being used in Sarasota this summer with the partnerships of Sarasota County Schools, Selby Library, and All Faiths Food Bank forming to feed hungry children and teens this summer. Children and teens up to the age of 18 years will be eligible to participate in the program. The Free Lunch and A Story will begin on June 13 and run through August 5, excluding the July 4th holiday.
Children and teens will be treated to a free hot lunch Monday through Thursday beginning on June 13 and a free boxed lunch each Friday. Lunches will be provided by the Sarasota County School District. Fun read aloud stories will also be a part of each lunch period. Lunch will be served from 12:00-12:45 each weekday.
Selby Library will also be the location for the food distribution program that is sponsored by All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota. Children and teens up to age 18 may participate in this program beginning on June 6 through August 15. A bag of non-perishable food will be given to each participant in this program.
Families that wish to participate in each of these programs may call Heather Tweed at 941-861-5000. Sarasota's Selby Library is located at 1331 1st Street. Click here for more info.
05.13.16: Venice Yacht Club volunteers help food bank
Members of the Venice Yacht Club Charitable Foundation recently sorted and packaged enough food and produce to provide 8,560 meals for All Faiths Food Bank.
“The members of the Venice Yacht Club are proud to join All Faiths Food Bank in addressing the issue of hunger in Sarasota County,” foundation chairman Michael Nemser said. “Yacht Club members were thrilled to package fresh produce to be delivered by Sprout, the mobile market the foundation sponsored in 2013.”
The Venice Yacht Club Charitable Foundation is a donor-advised fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Its mission is to support and enhance the goodwill of the Venice Yacht Club membership to serve community needs. For more information about the foundation, visit veniceyachtclub.com.
05.05.2016 : Florida Food Banks Brace For Impact Of SNAP Changes
Adding to the pressure of the job search, many unemployed Floridians risk losing an important safety net if they can’t find a job, enroll in school, or enter a job-training program. Florida is one of several states to reinstate time limits on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits. With the change, which took effect at the beginning of the year, able-bodied adults with no dependents are limited to three months of food assistance during any 36-month period.
Paco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, says without access to regular, healthy meals, a costly cycle ensues. “It starts leading into health issues and mental capacity issues, and then, they’ll end up giving you restrictions, and you end up with either low-paying jobs or not able to find a job,” says Velez.
Florida was one of many states that suspended the rules at the height of the Great Recession. But the SNAP time limits were reinstated at the beginning of the year, so the full effect began to hit in April. Velez says the impact is already being felt at food banks across the state. He adds his organization is working with its network of food banks and pantries to help get the word out, and to encourage those who can to open their hearts and cupboards to help out.
05.03.2016: Florida City Considers Food Donations To Pay Off Parking Tickets
Looking for a way out of a parking ticket? Donate some canned goods to a food bank.
That's a proposal being considered by the Tampa City Council. The program would run for about a month over the winter holidays.
Councilman Guido Maniscalco said the idea is to let people pay off some of their parking fines by donating food to the needy.
Tallahassee launched a similar program in November that lets first-time parking offenders get $1 of credit toward their fine for every food item donated. The cap is $50. The program brought in 297 pounds of food, enough for 250 meals.
Tampa officials will consider the proposal on Thursday. Most parking fines in Tampa run $25 or $30. Parking in a handicapped spot runs $251.
Join Scarlett Johansson in the fight to solve child hunger
Many kids look forward to the summer vacation and a break from school. But others dread the summer months since they don't have the same reliable source of meals they do during the school year. Summer can be a time of stress when kids don't have access to school lunches and/or breakfasts.
Scarlett Johansson knows about the issue all too well after growing up in a food insecure household. She is speaking out about the issue of child hunger and asks all of us to be part of the solution.
“My family grew up relying on public assistance to help provide meals for our family. Child hunger in America is a real and often overlooked problem, but one that together, we can fix.”
Click here for video.
Feeding South Florida Named Broward 211's "Nonprofit of the Year"
Feeding South Florida has been named as Broward 211's "Nonprofit of the Year" at their annual Nonprofit Academy Awards.
Members of FSF's Operations, Finance, and Community Relations team joined their President & CEO, Paco Velez, and 800 others at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to celebrate the good work of many nonprofits in the community.
Through a network of approximately 325 nonprofit partner agencies, Feeding South Florida is on pace to distribute 44 million pounds of food this fiscal year (over 36 million meals) to 871,920 food insecure individuals throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.
Feeding South Florida is a member of the Florida Association of Food Banks.