Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Volunteer 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.
hat 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?
1) Tennessee is facing some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. A large number of households in Tennessee are experiencing high levels of food insecurity. What programs are in place or could be put into place to fight hunger and poverty in this state? Who is involved with this work?
2) A 7% state tax applies to non-prescription drugs and a 5.5% tax on food. Most states exempt these products from the sales tax. Is there any movement among legislators or advocates for repealing these taxes?
3) The lowest 20% of income earners pay 11.7% of their income in taxes, while the highest 1% of income earners pay 3.1% of their income in taxes. What is being done to alleviate the tax burden placed on low-income individuals?
4) There is no state Earned Income Tax Credit program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to enact one?
5) Tennessee does not have a Shared Work Program. This program brings the state and employers together to help prevent layoffs. Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
6) SNAP participation rates are some of the highest out of all the states. What features of this states SNAP program make outreach and participation so successful?
7) While benefits for the WIC Farmers’ Market Program and Senior Farmers’ Market Program are average to above average, the number of participating Farmers’ Markets is not large. Is anyone working to increase markets participation in these programs and therefore increase the number of people receiving the benefits of these programs?
8) Tennessee has the 7th highest infant mortality rate and the 3rd largest obese population out of all the states. What is being done to combat these epidemics?
9) Tennessee has one of the lowest weekly average unemployment insurance benefit rates in the country, as well as one of the lowest unemployment insurance participation rates among those eligible. Is there currently any effort to increase the weekly average benefit rate? Is any effort being made to increase the number of people receiving unemployment insurance?
10) 26.7% of jobs pay below the federal poverty line. This is above the nation average of 22.2%. Is there any effort to increase the wages of workers such as introducing a minimum wage or to bring living wage jobs to the state?
11) In addition to there being no State LIHEAP program available, only 12.6% of homes receive federal LIHEAP assistance which is below that national average. Is there any effort to increase participation in LIHEAP? What about establishing a state program?
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.