- The Impact on the Asian Pacific Islander Community: Post-2010 Election Analysis From the People in the Trenches | The International Examiner | 11-16-2010
- Cuts hit program funding child care | The Spokesman-Review | 11-13-2010
In this edition, The International Examiner publishes an Op-Ed assessing how initiatives 1053 and 1107 will affect the Asian and Pacific Islander and greater community, while The Spokesman-Review, The Bellingham Herald and a guest columnist in the Central Kitsap Reporter outline potential cuts to Working Connections, Apple Health for Kids and Maternity Support Services, respectively. Also, several national sources weigh the consequences and solutions to the escalating hunger rate reported in the most recent USDA Food Security Report.
With the passage of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053… and Initiative 1107, which repealed the tax on candy, bottled water, soda, and gum, our state will continue to struggle to save core public services…What does this mean for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community? Here are a few items on the chopping block: ...1) The State’s Food Assistance Program; 2) A portion of the Apple Health for Kids program.
More than 4,000 working poor households across the state will lose their child care subsidies in the coming year as a result of budget cuts to Washington WorkFirst, the state’s temporary assistance program. Crystal Watkins, of Spokane, depends on the subsidy, called Working Connections, which helps provide safe child care for her two children while she works…“It will totally turn my life upside down,” said Watkins, a 27-year-old single mother. “I will have to find another job for which I also will have to find child care.”
Programs slated for elimination early next year include Disability Lifeline, Apple Health for Kids, and Medicaid Optional programs such as Maternity Support Services, adult dental care, pharmacy and interpreter services. Expected targets for cuts in the upcoming biennial budget are the elimination of Community Health Services grants, which keep clinic doors open for people without insurance, and a further reduction of the voter-approved Basic Health Plan. In all, hundreds of thousands of people will be affected by the cuts.
The Maternity Support Services program is at risk in the new budget. There is no question that our state is in a financial crisis and needs to find short-term savings, but eliminating Maternity Support Services is not the solution. This is a cost-effective program that helps one out of three pregnant women in Washington deliver healthier babies. In 2008-2009, more than 796 children in Kitsap County got a healthier start in life because of this program. Eliminating it will result in even higher costs – immediately and in the long term. As a pediatrician, I’ve seen first hand the difference getting a healthy start can make in a child’s life…Studies show that mothers enrolled in Maternity Support Services have a lower risk of having low birth weight babies, who are more likely to need expensive hospitalizations at an average cost of $27,500 per birth.
More than 50 million Americans lived in households that had a hard time getting enough to eat at least at some point during 2009. That includes 17 million children, and at least a half-million of those children faced the direst conditions. They had inadequate diets, or even missed meals, because their families didn't have enough money for food….Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits — which food stamps are now called — have become pretty mainstream over the past year and a half. Forty-two million Americans, or 1 in 8, now use them. "I think if there was ever evidence that SNAP is critical, this is it," says Elaine Waxman, a vice president with Feeding America, the nation's leading food bank network. She notes that the food stamp program was expanded last year by Congress as part of the economic recovery bill, and she says it clearly has helped contain hunger.
The number of these “food insecure” homes, or households that had a tough time providing enough food for their members, stayed somewhat steady from 2008 to 2009. But that number was more than triple compared with 2006, before the recession brought double-digit unemployment… “We anticipate that food security will improve as the economy improves,” Concannon said. But “in the near term, without these benefits, many families would face far more severe problems getting the nutritious food they need.”…The survey results came amid growing concern about the demand for federal food subsidies. This month, USDA officials announced that the number of Americans getting food stamps hit a record of 42.4 million in August, a 17 percent gain year over year. Subsidies provided under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program jumped in July by a similar amount, 17.5 percent.
The food stamp program, which has expanded massively in the recession, has softened what could have become even more grave levels of hunger. The program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, got a significant injection from the stimulus in 2009, which included an increase in the amount of assistance provided to families. Forty-two million people receive assistance through SNAP.…But in August, amidst a swirling frenzy about the deficit, Congress gutted the benefit hike to offset other needed spending to pay teachers salaries. As a result, a family of four will lose $59 a month in food stamp benefits once the gouging goes into effect at the end of 2014. That loss is sure to drive the number of food insecure families upward, especially since unemployment is expected to remain high for years and jobless benefits may not be extended.
Twenty-five percent of African-American households suffered from food insecurity in 2009—compared to 11 percent of white households—according to the most recent data on hunger released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table at some point in the year. Nationally, one in seven—or 14.7 percent—of U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2009. “The national figures are record-breaking, but the fact that such a disparity exists between African-Americans and whites shows that we must call on Congress to do more—especially for communities with the greatest need,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, northeast regional organizer for Bread for the World. “Congress must act now to ensure that programs designed to mitigate hunger are well-funded.”
…when it comes to nutrition, Latino children are in the midst of a crisis. New food insecurity data released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that for the third year in a row, Hispanic children make up the largest share of children living in hunger nationwide.
Earlier this year, the Senate unanimously passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a five-year reauthorization of the child nutrition programs. It would provide an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years for the school lunch program so that schools could afford to buy more nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, and lowfat dairy and meat products. But the bill failed to pass the House because anti-hunger groups opposed an offset that would include cutting a temporary increase in food stamp benefits for five months in 2013…Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action Center noted in an interview Monday that Vilsack and President Obama have both said the food stamp benefit cut should be restored and said his group believes that the best opportunity to restore the cuts would be in the lame-duck session. But neither Vilsack nor the White House has made a commitment to push for restoration in this session.
This iteration of the child nutrition bill has received the greatest amount of support and publicity in its history. The good food movement has gathered more and more advocates, both citizens and professionals, and the public has become more aware of the importance of nutrition programs for children. The bill even enjoys rare bipartisan support. Yet conflict over compromises has been simmering under the radar, splitting would-be allies on the path to reform…The bill currently on the table, sponsored by outgoing Senator Blanche Lincoln, funds its new, groundbreaking nutrition and hunger programs partly by cutting $2.2 billion in future SNAP (food stamp) funding. It was passed unanimously. The bill authored by the House did not cut SNAP funding; but neither did it find adequate funding. Instead the bill stalled, the August recess came and went, and only half of the $2 billion increase was funded.