Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Register to attend L.V. Food Policy Council meeting

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by SHARI NOCTOR in Opinion

I recently attended the 2017 Anti-Hunger Conference in Washington, D.C., which was presented by Feeding America (No Kid Hungry) and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). More than 1,300 people attended, including food banks, faith-based groups, educators, USDA representatives, attorneys, Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA representatives, plus many more people who work to feed Americans daily. It was a real eye opener.

FRAC was very strong on the upcoming farm bill legislation. The following is taken from a handout given at the conference on SNAP, one of the programs cited to be cut.

“SNAP is the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition and food security safety net, helping to put food on the table for 43 million low-income participants each month. SNAP’s strengths include the following.

1. It is targeted to reach the neediest and most vulnerable people in our country. Eighty-two percent of all benefits go to households with a child, senior or person with disabilities, and the average household has an income of only 59 percent of the federal poverty line.

2. Extensive research shows that SNAP plays a critical role in improving dietary intake and health, especially among children. One more recent study found that receipt of SNAP in early childhood improved high school graduation rates, adult earnings and adult health.

3. SNAP benefits average less than $1.39 per person per meal, making it difficult for recipients to afford an adequate and nutritious diet.

4. SNAP relieves pressure on overwhelmed food banks, pantries, religious congregations and other emergency food providers across the country that could not begin to meet the need for food assistance if SNAP eligibility or benefits were reduced. SNAP provides roughly 10 times the meals provided by the Feeding America network.”

Susan Dalandan, of both the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council and Community Action Center of the Lehigh Valley, states, “We recognize that our national legislators reflect both the citizens’ input and the state government input in crafting legislation. A major piece of legislation being crafted is renewal of the farm bill.

“The farm bill is slated for a 21-percent budget cut in President Trump’s proposed budget. Most of the budget cuts are aimed at research (affecting crucial research into agricultural bioterrorism), rural development, and farmland conservation and preservation. Other budget cuts are aimed at the largest program in the USDA, the food and nutrition program. This program affects our school lunches, after school, summer foods program and community food and nutrition programs. As you well know, these programs have been crucial lifelines in the difficult economic climate many Americans (including especially seniors, youth and rural residents) have been faced with in the last years. We also recognize that state legislators have crucial input with our state and local government agencies as the programs are implemented.’’

I am pleased to announce that the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council is holding its semiannual meeting 1-3 p.m. April 26 at Zentz Community Center at Fellowship Community, 3300 Fellowship Drive, Whitehall. It is open to the public. I hope you can attend and hear all the good things the Whitehall Area Hunger Initiative and other Lehigh Valley programs are doing to alleviate hunger locally. At this meeting, there will be a discussion on the farm bill. A panel of local legislative representatives will be discussing how the community can best assist in seeking the best solutions for effective legislation and spending for our communities. Please register for the meeting at lvfpc2017springcommunitymeeting.eventbrite.com.