Idaho Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Gem 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) Idaho has the second lowest income per capita at $21,080. In addition, 27% of jobs pay below the FPL. What steps are being taken to raise yearly income and introduce a living wage in the state?
2) The population living in poverty in Idaho is in line with the national average of 14.3%. Seniors living in poverty is above that national average at 10.1%. How is poverty being combated in the state? Have efforts been effective thus far?
3) Idaho is one of the few states that do not have a Pre-K program. The president is investing billions in Pre-K. Is there any movement in the state for a Pre-K program? If so, who is involved?
4) Participation rates in both the School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs are among the highest in the nation. The number of children in the Summer Nutrition Program per 100 in the School Lunch Program is extremely high. What about these programs makes them so successful? Who is overseeing them?
5) 17.4% of people live without health insurance, including 11.2% of children. These rates are above national averages, and could also be contributing to the above average infant mortality rate. Why are so many people uninsured? How can the problem be remedied?
6) Idaho has one the highest point in time estimates of homelessness with very low percentages of the population receiving Federal SSI or TANF. What is being done to address homelessness? How can these programs be improved and expanded in order to decrease the number homeless people?
7) Most states exempt food from taxation. Idaho, however, applies the 6% state tax to food purchases. Why is that? Is there any movement to eliminate this tax? Non-prescription drugs are also subject to sales tax in Idaho.  Is there any effort being made to repeal the 6% sales tax on non-prescription medication?
8) There is no state EITC program.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to establish one?
9) Idaho does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
10) Despite there being a good amount of farmers markets and CSAs in the state, there is no WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program or Senior’s Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program? Why is this?  Is there any push to grant farmer’s market benefits to mothers and seniors?
11) 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.