Hawaii Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Aloha 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) In most states food purchases as well as non-prescription drugs are exempt from the state tax. In Hawaii the 4% state tax applies to these. Why is that? Is there any effort to eliminate this tax on food or medication?
2) There is no state EITC program.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
3) Hawaii does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
4) The insurance coverage of adults and children in Hawaii is well above the nation’s averages. What makes health insurance so widespread and inclusive in Hawaii?
5) Hawaii has the highest average monthly SNAP benefit in the country at $199.02 per person, this over $70 per month above the national average. What groups or individuals have helped advocate for this high allowance? Are there any special features of this program in your state that has made this possible?
6) 72% of those eligible for SNAP receive benefits in the state of Hawaii; this is almost 10% above the national average. Does your state run any special outreach programs that might help account for this above average performance?
7) Although there is a Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, there is no WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  Why is this?  Is there any movement to establish one?
8) Hawaii has the 4th largest homeless population and a below average rate of eligible families receiving housing benefits.  Is anything being done to prevent people from losing their homes, or to help those who already have?
9) LIHEAP only serves 4.7% of households, far below the national average of 19.6%. How can the program be expanded to reach more households?
10) Hawaii has a very low rate of taxpayers receiving a federal EITC?  Is there any effort being made to increase the number of people who receive an EITC?
11) There is currently no state Pre-K Program in Hawaii.  Is there any movement to introduce one?
12) 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.