Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Mountain 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) The poverty levels in West Virginia are among the highest in the nation. 17.7% of the population is living in poverty and 7.6% are living in extreme poverty. West Virginia also has above average percentages of children and seniors living in poverty. Who is involved with combating poverty levels in the state? What programs are in place? How successful have they been?
2) 38.5% of the jobs pay below the federal poverty line. This is the highest rate in the country. Is there any movement to increase the minimum wage or promote a living wage?
3) Most states do not tax food. West Virginia decreased its tax on food to 3% in 2008. Who pushed for this decrease? Is anyone working on having this tax eliminated all together?
4) Non-prescription drugs are currently taxed at 6%. Is there any movement to exempt the purchase of non-prescription drugs?
5) There is no state EITC program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to introduce a program?
6) West Virginia does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
7) West Virginia has the second highest SNAP participation rate among the working poor in the nation (93%). Do you know of any special features of the program in your state that might contribute to this above average performance?
8) The average SNAP benefit per person in West Virginia is the third lowest in the nation at $111.25. Do you know of any effort to increase this benefit?
9) The benefit rate for the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition program is below the national average. Given the high rates of food insecurity and poverty, is there any effort being made to increase the benefit rate?
10) Only 14% of families living below the federal poverty line receive TANF. This is well below the national average of 21%. What, if anything, is being done to increase participation in TANF?
11) West Virginia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the country. It also has a very high infant mortality rate. What programs does the state have to combat these epidemics? How successful are they?
12) The percentage of people with Bachelors Degrees in the state is the lowest in the nation. Are there any programs or organizations working to promote higher education? What are they doing?
13) 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.