Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Tar Heel 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) North Carolina has the one of highest percentages of people living in extreme poverty. People in this category earn less than 50% of the federal poverty level and are at an extremely high risk of food and housing insecurity. The percentages of children and seniors living in poverty are above national averages and the percentage of the Hispanic population living in poverty is the 3rd largest in the nation. Do you know of any efforts to address the needs of these specific groups, possibly by increasing social programs or attempting to bring more living wage jobs to the state?
2) North Carolina does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
3) The benefit level for the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is below the national average, while the benefit for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is one of the highest in the nation. What is making one program more beneficial than the other? Is there any effort underway to increase the benefit level for the WIC Farmers’ Market Program?
4) The infant mortality rate is the 5th highest of all the states and the obesity rate is one of the highest in the nation. Meanwhile 16.1% of the population is uninsured. What is being done to combat these epidemics? What effort is being made to increase insurance coverage?
5) North Carolina has a below average rate for those receiving unemployment insurance in addition to an above average percentage of jobs paying below the federal poverty line. Is there any movement to address either of these issues?
6) Only 7% of families living below the federal poverty line receive TANF. This is one of the lowest percentages in the country. Is there currently a plan to increase participation in TANF?
7) There is a sales tax of 5.75% on non-prescription drugs in the state of North Carolina. Most states exempt these products. Is there any movement to do so in your state?
8) North Carolina has the 9th highest number of people eligible for the SNAP program in the United States, but only 56% percent of these individuals participate in the program. What is being done to increase outreach and enrollment for SNAP? Who is involved?
9) Only 29% of eligible people receive housing benefits in North Carolina. Although this is just 3% below the national average, it is among the lowest rates in the country. Is there any effort being made to increase the number of people receiving housing benefits?
10) 45.6% of renters are spending more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. Is there any movement to increase assistance to renters?
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.