The Link Between Food Insecurity and the Great Recession 

A report from the Hamilton Project highlights the lingering effects of the Great Recession on food insecurity…

There’s considerable state-by-state variation in food insecurity levels across the country, demonstrating once again that geography matters if you’re poor.

Here’s what Vilsack had to say about some states’ approach to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and whether SNAP should be eliminated in favor of a block grant (as House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed):

I’m leery about block grants, just simply because I haven’t seen governors step up.
I alluded earlier, when we came in in 2009, there were states where a little over 50 percent of eligible people were actually receiving SNAP because that particular governor, that particular administration, did not care enough to make sure that people knew about these benefits, did not care enough to make sure that their bureaucracy was getting information out in languages that people could understand, did not care enough to simplify the process, so I’m skeptical.

The Obama administration has successfully increased overall SNAP participation levels to 85 percent, but Vilsack’s comments illustrate how seemingly minor local political decisions around SNAP education and outreach can affect enrollment in a program that effectively reduces food insecurity.

The Link Between Food Insecurity and the Great Recession — Pacific Standard

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AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PUSHES BACK AGAINST CRITICS OF HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

Markets can help by encouraging members of their communities to write letters to the editors of local papers and by doing Dot Surveys to capture what market goers  think about high standards for good food in schools, and then sending those sheets to your congresspeople. This is a very clear line in the sand to me, with large corporations fighting this necessary change in order to maintain control and reap large profits through using unhealthy commodity products. Let’s educate our communities.

“I’ve heard a lot of the reasons we should take a step back, and roll back some of the standards, and I want to address several of those concerns. One of those concerns is that participation is down and therefore there must be a reason to roll back and reduce the standards. Well the reality is that school breakfast participation is up,” Vilsack said. “Second, free-and-reduced lunch participation is actually up. What is down is paid lunch and that didn’t start with the standards. That actually happened several years before the standards were enacted, in large part I suspect, because of the economic realities we face.”

The Obama administration will also provide $2.6 million for training programs for cafeteria staff and allocate $5.6 million to the USDA’s Smarter Lunchroom strategies that help states develop ideas that will encourage healthy eating. Vilsack also referenced its Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative, which helps rural schools come up with creative strategies to provide healthy food.

“If you’re a rural school and you’re having a hard time because your student population numbers are down and your state aid may not be what it once was, and the cafeteria is having a hard time, we may set you up with a rural school who has been successful in figuring this out,” Vilsack said. “We provide a mentoring relationship to call a colleague and you can ask, ‘How did you handle this?’ and we now see that is indeed working, and we have now expanded this beyond the deep south.”
<p>Source: <a href=”http://thinkprogress.org/education/2015/09/09/3699577/agriculture-secretary-defends-healthy-school-lunch-program/”>Agriculture Secretary Pushes Back Against Critics Of Healthy School Lunch Program | ThinkProgress</a></p>