After 42 years of working in the U.S. and around the world to end hunger and build social justice for all, we know firsthand that the just, plentiful world we are working to build has no room for oppressive or discriminatory rhetoric, threats or actions. With federal policies and practices that threaten those values unfolding at a rapid pace, WhyHunger will continue to stand up for and with our community-based partners and work together to build a just, hunger free world.
We will remain vigilant defenders of human rights, at home and abroad, and protectors of the earth that provides for us all. We will organize across sectors from the environment to food to immigration to gender and race – standing in solidarity with our partners, allies and supporters on the front lines of the struggle to ensure that all people have the right and opportunity to live a dignified life free from hunger and oppression.
We will reject pending federal policy and budget decisions that threaten to pull apart the fabric of our democracy, to destroy the vital safety net – from health care to SNAP - that is keeping millions from falling deeper into hunger and poverty, and to deport and criminalize immigrant communities on whose backs our exploitive food system is built.
Now is the time to take action!
•Call your elected officials – locally, statewide and federally – to share your vision for a just world, free from hunger. Ask them to invest in policies that protect the environment and support the rights of all people to have nutritious food and a dignified life that free from oppression, fear and discrimination.
•Recommit your time, energy and funds to supporting community-based organizations and social movements that are driving local innovation and fueling progress.
•Take the time to engage in political analysis and dialogue around the deeper issues of hunger at the intersection of economic inequality, racism, health and the environment.
Join WhyHunger in continually asking the WHY questions in the face of injustice, oppression and hunger and interrogating the effectiveness, equity and consequences behind each and every proposed solution. Together we can strengthen and grow the movement for social justice and realize the just, hunger free world we’ve imagined and set out to build.
Like so many of our fellow Americans, the staff at WhyHunger gathered this morning to reflect on a moment in our collective history that has the power to reshape our country and our future. We feel a deep sense of urgency to support and lift up our grassroots partners who have been on the forefront of the movement to end hunger and to build a world brimming with -- not just food justice -- but social justice. It is alongside them that we are strengthening our resolve to transform our collective food system into one that is socially and economically just, nourishes whole communities, cools the planet and ensures the rights of all people to food, land, water and sustainable livelihoods.
This is a critical juncture in our nation’s history. It is a moment for political education where we must strengthen our shared understanding of the systems and institutions that have fostered the deep divides along racial, gender and class lines, and the painful struggles of those communities most impacted by the failures of the current political and economic systems. It is a moment to come together with the millions of Americans who share our values of social justice and equity for all. To double down on our strategies to build and strengthen grassroots-led movements for food justice and food sovereignty; to work for social justice by addressing the root causes of hunger and the deep inequities of poverty at the intersection of economic inequality, racism, health and the environment; and to protect and advance the right to nutritious food for all.
Now more than ever, this is the time to recommit ourselves to building strong and vibrant social movements that lift up the ideals of the just, hunger free world that we all want to see. Our work for the last 41 years has been to nourish, support and accompany these grassroots organizations and social movements to further their work and build power together. We remain committed to continuing to build alongside our partners with even greater urgency. We have seen firsthand the resilience, power and beauty of the community-led solutions that are transforming our communities, our country and our world for the better – from vibrant urban farms and rural co-ops, to food banks and food pantries working at the root causes of hunger, to youth leadership development and Veggie RX nutrition programs, and from networks and alliances to large-scale social movements. We know that it is with, and only with, a grassroots movement led by those who are most affected by the injustices of hunger and poverty that we can achieve real change.
We know we are not alone. There are millions of people in this country who want change and are ready and willing to address the structural issues that we are facing, like so many of you who have supported our work and the work of our partners over the years. Together, we must move forward by envisioning and then building the country and world we want to live in where nutritious food, a dignified life, opportunity and justice are a right for everyone. We need to take this moment of pain and build. We need to come together and be bold in our resolve to continue the struggle. We must reject racism, sexism, misogyny, bigotry and hate as a critical step on the journey to build social justice and peace for all. We must use this moment as an opportunity to elevate the discourse, the actions and engagement of all those who share our belief in justice for all.
At WhyHunger, we pledge to continue with urgency and determination to build this global and growing movement with our partners, foster dialogue and collective action and continue to support and amplify the voices of those facing hunger, poverty and injustice. We will keep bringing you stories of hope and glimpses of the communities and people who are transforming our world each and every day. We will bring you opportunities to learn, engage and act, because we need you in this struggle. Together, we know that we can and will build a just world for us all.
The WhyHunger Staff
WhyHunger is proud to join over 1,500 national, state and community-based organizations in signing onto the below statement opposing block granting for school meals. The statement, organized by our friends at FRAC (the Food, Research & Action Center), is an important step in protecting the health, food security and well-being of tens of millions of kids across the country.
The United States has a history of strong bipartisan commitment to support effective programs focused on school nutrition ensuring that children do not go hungry and are prepared to learn in the classroom. These vital programs are being targeted and are threatened under the guise of a three-state demonstration pilot project that would block grant important school meal programs. These programs have proven their effectiveness time and time again, and block granting them would remove the federal government’s important role in ensuring their implementation, protecting nutritional standards and even potentially limit their ability to increase funding in areas that show need. Giving states discretion on how to spend federal funds and set their own criteria for programs like School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Team Nutrition and the Special Milk program poses a threat to those families who are currently relying on these programs to keep their kids healthy and fed. Many low-income children stand to be left out of these vital programs as intended dollars can easily be diverted to other priorities of the state. For example, there is no requirement for running the programs year round or providing funding for more than one meal a day. Block granting is a bad idea and too ambiguous, leaving no mechanism for holding states accountable and ultimately undermining the proven effectiveness of these important nutrition programs.
Now is the time to take action! Please join FRAC and WhyHunger and commit to the fight against the flawed child nutrition reauthorization bill or H.R. 5003 – especially the block grant:
Step 1: Sign the statement opposing the school meals block grant provision in the House CNR bill here.
Step 2: Use social media to help get the word out:
• Sample Tweet: Join [@your org hashtag] & over 1500 orgs opposing school meal block grant. Sign the statement today! //bit.ly/1XPG0OT #SaveSchoolMeals #CNR2016
Step 1: Check out FRAC’s Legislative Action Center for updates on CNR, advocacy tools, social media templates, and more.
Background (Provided by FRAC):
On May 18, the House Education and the Workforce Committee voted out the House Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill, H.R. 5003, including a dangerous three-state block grant proposal for the school meal programs. This block grant would end the federal government’s ability to increase funding in areas of need, enforce child nutrition standards in school meals, and ensure students in need receive enough nutritious food year-round. Many other provisions of H.R. 5003 are also of serious concern, including a more difficult application process, harmful changes in community eligibility, and weakened school nutrition standards.
To learn more about the House CNR Bill and the block grant provision, read FRAC’s latest analysis of the bill.
Opposition Statement to School Meal Block Grant Provision Included in “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003)
We write to express our strong opposition to the block grant provision included in the “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016” (H.R. 5003), and we would oppose any proposal to block grant any child nutrition program. The highly effective child nutrition programs are designed to reduce hunger, improve health, and support learning. Block granting them is misguided and would diminish their ability to accomplish these fundamental goals.
The three-state block grant proposal included in the House bill would immediately cut the funding to operate the school nutrition programs in those states. It would eliminate the additional six-cent reimbursement that 98 percent of school districts receive for meeting the improved nutrition standards and the federal funding provided to support paid meals. After that cut, funding is capped at the fiscal year 2016 funding level. With each year, the programs’ ability to serve low-income children will erode even further as the states will no longer qualify for the annual funding adjustments that are based on food price inflation – resulting in fewer meals provided to fewer needy children. Additionally, this approach means that states will be unable to respond to any increase in need arising from a recession or population growth.
Furthermore, the meals would no longer have to meet consistent nutrition standards as they are only required to be “healthy.” This would create a patchwork of standards that seriously diminishes the school meals programs’ ability to promote good nutrition and improve child health outcomes and makes it difficult to procure the food needed. Participating states could set their own eligibility rules. Moreover, there would be no requirement that children have access to both school breakfast and lunch, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have minimal authority to ensure that the child nutrition funding that the states receive is being used to meet the nutritional needs of the children in the state.
The current structure of the child nutrition programs is based upon a shared, bipartisan commitment to provide children access to the nutritious meals they need in order to grow up healthy and achieve academically, and it allows the programs to respond to any increase in need. This commitment must be maintained. We urge you to reject any proposals to block grant the child nutrition programs.
Read and sign on here.
WhyHunger staff recently came together to discuss ways we'd like to see the food justice movement advance in 2015 to increase food security and equality. Below are a few actions that anyone can take to help address root causes of hunger and move towards change.
1. Volunteer in February (or May) Many people like to volunteer on Thanksgiving or during the holidays, but food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens need dedicated volunteers year-round. Start a new tradition and sign up to help on a different day, like Arbor Day, or your birthday. There is also a need for volunteers with specialized skills, such as accounting, social media or website design. If you have something unique to offer, talk to the organization to see how you can get involved. Also, consider hosting a virtual food drive or a cash drive to make a financial donation to your local emergency food provider. Food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens can purchase food in bulk, which means that a dollar donated can go many times farther than a dollar spent on cans for a food drive.
Be an advocate and support a living minimum wage petition. Research shows that hunger in the U.S. is not an issue of production or distribution, but rather issues of poverty and inequality. Food is a basic need but it is also one of the costs most easily negotiated on a daily basis. Medical bills, child care, transportation to and from work, rent and utilities are all costs that are generally fixed. If every American was paid a living wage so that two full-time working adults could afford to support a family - we would see hunger in the US dramatically drop.
5. Protect the Environment Erratic weather and natural disasters as a result of climate change threaten the food supply for the long-term and can create short-term food shortage emergencies. How we produce food in concert with the local ecology is crucial. You can help protect the food system by buying from environmentally conscious companies, patronizing local farmers and supporting anti-fracking initiatives to protect our water.
In July, the Texas Food Bank Network unveiled a new website, StopTheHungerClock.org, to bring public awareness to the time remaining— 69 days as of August 23rd— until major funding cuts reduce SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits to every household that participates in the program. The 2009 Recovery Act provided a temporary boost to SNAP benefits in an effort to help families in need during the harsh recession, but that addition is scheduled to end on November 1, 2013. These cuts come much earlier than they were intended because in 2010, Congress opted to fund education jobs, Medicaid, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act by taking funds from SNAP.
These cuts will cause serious hardship for SNAP participants, who include 22 million children and 9 million people who are elderly or have a serious disability. For families of four, the cut will be $36 per month— a total of $396 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014. It will be the equivalent of taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four, based on calculations using $1.70 to $2 as the cost per meal.
Altogether, the total cut is estimated to be $5 billion in fiscal year 2014. Let’s put this in perspective: the USDA provides $114 billion of food per year through its nutrition programs, whereas emergency food providers provide people in need with about $5 billion of food. Bread for the World’s infographic depicts this as one in every 24 bags of groceries. As Joel Berg, executive director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger, put it, the $5 billion cut “makes it as if every single emergency food provider in the United States didn’t exist.”
Those following the Food and Farm Bill are aware that deeper cuts to SNAP may be on the way before the current law expires on September 30th. Congress is in recess through the first week of September, which makes this a crucial time for anti-hunger advocates to engage with their legislators.
Here is a round-up of helpful resources to help you advocate for fully-funded SNAP: