Colorado Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Centennial State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.  

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1. There is a 2.9% sales tax on non-prescription drugs.  Is there any movement to exempt these products from this tax?
2. Colorado does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
3. Colorado has below average SNAP and WIC participation for those eligible.  Is there any push to increase SNAP and WIC participation or make it more accessible?
4. The percent of students who participate in both the School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program is below average and ranked in the bottom ten states.  Is there any effort underway to increase participation?
5. The number of children in the Summer Nutrition Program when compared to those in the National School Lunch Program is one of the worst comparisons in the country. This means an extremely large number of children do not receive the food they need during the summer. Is there a movement to increase the number of locations where food can be accessed? What is being done to spread awareness of this program and increase participation?
6. There is no Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program or WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program despite there being 61 farmer’s markets.  Why is this?  Is there any effort being made to establish either program?
7. Colorado has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country yet has one of the lowest rates of eligible people receiving housing benefits.  Why is this?  Is there anything being done to address this problem?
8. Colorado has the number one percentage of families living below the FPL that receive TANF, at 85%. What makes participation in this program so widespread and successful?
9. The state EITC is currently suspended.  Is there any effort being made to restart the program?
10. Only 11.7% of taxpayers receive a federal EITC.  This is well below the national average of 15%. Is there any effort being made to increase the rate of those receiving the EITC?
11. Only 16% of 4 year olds are enrolled in a state Pre-K Program. Colorado does not spend even half of the national average in dollars per child enrolled in State Pre-K. Why is there such low participation in state Pre-K and funding per child?
12. Colorado spends an above average amount of the state budget on corrections.  Is there any movement to reform state corrections?  Are there any efforts to reduce recidivism or use alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders?
13. What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].  

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.