Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Garden 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. New Jersey does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
2. Only 50% of eligible people receive SNAP. This is below the national average of 62.7%. Is there currently any plan to increase access of SNAP to those who need it?
3. Only 36.7% of students participate in both the School Breakfast Program and School Lunch Program. This is below the national average and one of the lowest rates in the country. Is there any effort being made to increase participation in each program?
4. The benefit amounts for the Seniors Farmers Market Program and WIC Farmers Market Program are both below the national average. Is there any movement to increase benefit rates for these programs, especially since there are many farmers markets and farmers involved?
5. The percentages of adults and children living below the federal poverty line are both below the national average. But with the high population in New Jersey, this means that there are still large numbers of poor families in the state. Is there any effort being made to increase participation in assistance programs for those that need it most?
6. 28% of eligible people receive housing benefits. This is below the national average. Is there currently any plan to increase participation?
7. New Jersey has the 5th highest percentages of both mortgage holders and renters who spend 30% or more of their income on monthly owner costs/rent and utilities. The foreclosure rate at 6.2 is the 3rd highest rate in the country. What is being done to keep people from losing their homes? Are there any efforts to create more affordable housing?
8. New Jersey has the 7th lowest percentage of people receiving federal EITC. Why is the rate so low? Is there a movement to increase the number of EITC recipients?
9. The state spends an enormous amount of money per child enrolled in the State Pre-K program ($10,989) in comparison to the national average ($4,689). Why is this? What is being done to increase participation in the program?
10. 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.