Hungry much?

California faces severe food aid gap in time of need

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By Hugh Biggar

news@sfbg.com

Here's something to chew on with your bagel and coffee—assuming you can afford that in these trying times. Roughly, 2.3 million Californians are receiving official help getting enough to eat, but nearly 3 million others who qualify are not.

In fact, California's low enrollment in the federal food stamp program, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or in California, CalFresh, is costing the state both socially and economically.

"There's a deepening crisis," Matthew Sharp, a senior advocate with the nonprofit California Food Policy Advocates, said. "California's high housing costs and extreme unemployment are two forces that have put pressure on households."

Despite increasing need, however, less than half of those eligible for Cal Fresh assistance receive it, placing California next to last nationally. In other states, about 75 percent of those eligible for federal food stamp help take part, and some states are well above that threshold. Oregon, for instance, reaches about 90 percent of those who qualify.

In California, though, just about 43 percent of those eligible take part.

Socially, this means, of course, that millions of people are not getting enough to eat, leading to a range of other issues including health problems and hungry children underperforming at school. (In California, about 17 percent of children live in poverty, including roughly 3 million who qualify for free or reduced price meals.)

Economically, low participation in CalFresh also leaves money on the table at time when businesses and California's tax bureau are badly in need of funds. While the money per day may seem small, $4.50 for individual or about the cost of that bagel and coffee, it can still go a long way. Weekly CalFresh assistance equals $31 for an individual, or $325 monthly for a family of four.

"Food stamps stimulate the economy in a variety of ways," explained Chris Wimer, associate director of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture—the federal administrator of the food stamp program—has found that every $5 spent from food stamps generates about $9 in related economic activity.

Additionally, CFPA has found that boosting California's food stamp participation to the 75 percent level would generate about $131 million in sales tax revenue, including $27 million for non-general fund expenses.

But instead, low enrollment means California's loses out on about $5 billion annually or nearly $9 billion in related economic activity. On the county level, this includes losses as well. Los Angeles County is estimated to lose out on $1.3 billion in direct assistance and $2.4 billion in related activity; Alameda County, $106 million and $191 million; San Diego County, $354 million and $634 million.

At the same time, the level of need continues to increase due to a stalled economy and flat wages.

"Overall wages have dramatically declined, particularly in the services industries such as hotel workers," Sharp said from CFPA's Los Angeles office, noting that falling incomes have made Cal Fresh an increasingly common supplement to family's budgets.

In addition, the type of person in need of help has also shifted, and can include college students, those with jobs but not making enough to get by, and senior citizens.

"The variety of households taking part has increased astronomically," Sharp said. "This includes families that have never struggled with unemployment before and it has had a staggering effect on them."

Comments

New Urban Garden Concept

Two Books are necessary to make neighborhood gardening take off...

1. Food Not Lawns -Heather C. Flores

2. Square Foot Gardening -Mel Bartholomew

My suggestion is to create a non-profit organization that will install gardens

based on a few easy and affordable backyard design templates in urban

and suburban areas. The goals of this effort are-

1. To make urban gardens easy and cheap by streamlining the garden

designs into a few backyard design pattern templates that the "customer"

could choose from. The design patterns would incorporate both square foot

gardening concepts and some basic composting and water usage

concepts from the "Food Not Lawns"

2. Network all recipients and hosts of these new urban food gardens via a

website. The website allows (requires) individuals to list the produce they

will be growing this season, and the gives individuals the option to trade

one kind of produce for another by requesting via internet. Website is also

divided into neighborhoods and allows posting for neighborhood daily, or

weekly potluck events. Website also hosts practical gardening tips and

food recipes.

That's the idea in a nutshell. Design about 4-5 backyard garden design

templates that are workable in urban environments, find backyard hosts

that are willing to donate for cost of installation or have a charitable organizations who will make the donation. Make things cheap and affordable for all, and allow people to trade produce and schedule potlucks.

This helps move towards a more inclusive community, and more importantly it helps bridge the food gap in a way that is healthy and sustainable. It would also cut down on traffic and possibly other problems because people would no longer be required to go to soup kitchens or far-away grocery stores, and could instead stay in their own neighborhoods and be more self-sustainable. I think this idea could take off with minimal resources for the amount of return to the city. This is a big idea. It just dropped into my head one day.

My name is Zach.

I can do my best to facilitate conversations between non-profits and others

who might be interested in this idea and investors who might be interested

in donating to this idea and vice a versa. I am just a student, but this idea

needs to happen and this was underscored for me today when I picked up

the most recent copy of the Guardian, The Great Food Divide.

It is my personal opinion that this idea can help evade famine in America.

So, while some among us might be tempted to allow big corporations to

continue to dominant the food supply and play our violins as we allow

apocalyptic self-fulfilling prophecies of famine and pestilence to starve us

all... I think there is a better way.

It is not just for the wealthy. It is affordable. It is efficient. It is empowering.

But most importantly it is human.

Peace.

Please contact me at

(415)361-6915
or zacharykirksmainemail@yahoo.com

Posted by Zach on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 11:49 am

New Urban Garden Concept

Two Books are necessary to make neighborhood gardening take off...

1. Food Not Lawns -Heather C. Flores

2. Square Foot Gardening -Mel Bartholomew

My suggestion is to create a non-profit organization that will install gardens

based on a few easy and affordable backyard design templates in urban

and suburban areas. The goals of this effort are-

1. To make urban gardens easy and cheap by streamlining the garden

designs into a few backyard design pattern templates that the "customer"

could choose from. The design patterns would incorporate both square foot

gardening concepts and some basic composting and water usage

concepts from the "Food Not Lawns"

2. Network all recipients and hosts of these new urban food gardens via a

website. The website allows (requires) individuals to list the produce they

will be growing this season, and the gives individuals the option to trade

one kind of produce for another by requesting via internet. Website is also

divided into neighborhoods and allows posting for neighborhood daily, or

weekly potluck events. Website also hosts practical gardening tips and

food recipes.

That's the idea in a nutshell. Design about 4-5 backyard garden design

templates that are workable in urban environments, find backyard hosts

that are willing to donate for cost of installation or have a charitable organizations who will make the donation. Make things cheap and affordable for all, and allow people to trade produce and schedule potlucks.

This helps move towards a more inclusive community, and more importantly it helps bridge the food gap in a way that is healthy and sustainable. It would also cut down on traffic and possibly other problems because people would no longer be required to go to soup kitchens or far-away grocery stores, and could instead stay in their own neighborhoods and be more self-sustainable. I think this idea could take off with minimal resources for the amount of return to the city. This is a big idea. It just dropped into my head one day.

My name is Zach.

I can do my best to facilitate conversations between non-profits and others

who might be interested in this idea and investors who might be interested

in donating to this idea and vice a versa. I am just a student, but this idea

needs to happen and this was underscored for me today when I picked up

the most recent copy of the Guardian, The Great Food Divide.

It is my personal opinion that this idea can help evade famine in America.

So, while some among us might be tempted to allow big corporations to

continue to dominant the food supply and play our violins as we allow

apocolyptic self-fulfilling prophecies of famine and pestilence to starve us

all...There is a better way.

It is not just for the wealthy. It is affordable. It is efficient. It is empowering.

But most importantly it is human.

Peace.

Please contact me at

(415)361-6915
or zacharykirksmainemail@yahoo.com

Posted by Zach on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 11:49 am

New Urban Garden Concept

Two Books are necessary to make neighborhood gardening take off...

1. Food Not Lawns -Heather C. Flores

2. Square Foot Gardening -Mel Bartholomew

My suggestion is to create a non-profit organization that will install gardens

based on a few easy and affordable backyard design templates in urban

and suburban areas. The goals of this effort are-

1. To make urban gardens easy and cheap by streamlining the garden

designs into a few backyard design pattern templates that the "customer"

could choose from. The design patterns would incorporate both square foot

gardening concepts and some basic composting and water usage

concepts from the "Food Not Lawns"

2. Network all recipients and hosts of these new urban food gardens via a

website. The website allows (requires) individuals to list the produce they

will be growing this season, and the gives individuals the option to trade

one kind of produce for another by requesting via internet. Website is also

divided into neighborhoods and allows posting for neighborhood daily, or

weekly potluck events. Website also hosts practical gardening tips and

food recipes.

That's the idea in a nutshell. Design about 4-5 backyard garden design

templates that are workable in urban environments, find backyard hosts

that are willing to donate for cost of installation or have a charitable organizations who will make the donation. Make things cheap and affordable for all, and allow people to trade produce and schedule potlucks.

This helps move towards a more inclusive community, and more importantly it helps bridge the food gap in a way that is healthy and sustainable. It would also cut down on traffic and possibly other problems because people would no longer be required to go to soup kitchens or far-away grocery stores, and could instead stay in their own neighborhoods and be more self-sustainable. I think this idea could take off with minimal resources for the amount of return to the city. This is a big idea. It just dropped into my head one day.

My name is Zach.

I can do my best to facilitate conversations between non-profits and others

who might be interested in this idea and investors who might be interested

in donating to this idea and vice a versa. I am just a student, but this idea

needs to happen and this was underscored for me today when I picked up

the most recent copy of the Guardian, The Great Food Divide.

It is my personal opinion that this idea can help evade famine in America.

So, while some among us might be tempted to allow big corporations to

continue to dominant the food supply and play our violins as we allow

apocolyptic self-fulfilling prophecies of famine and pestilence to starve us

all...There is a better way.

It is not just for the wealthy. It is affordable. It is efficient. It is empowering.

But most importantly it is human.

Peace.

Please contact me at

(415)361-6915
or zacharykirksmainemail@yahoo.com

Posted by Zach on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 11:50 am

One of the reasons so few California college students receive SNAP benefits is because they are required to have a job that gives them at least 20 hours each week. They are not eligible in any month when their weekly work hours do not total at least 20 hours each and every week. Do you have any idea how hard it is for college students to keep their grades up on a standard 12 unit semester while working 20 hours each and every week? Most college students can't find part-time jobs that will guarantee them 20 hours per week, period.

Many students are going to college in the first place because they were unable to find jobs. I know this because my 26 year-old son, and his 22 year-old girlfriend are two of them. I am disabled, have three college students living in my home (because they can't afford to live anywhere else and have nowhere else to go) and can only get SNAP for myself, $190 per month.

The number of units represents (in most cases) the number of hours per week spent in class. Colleges tell students to plan to study at least three hours outside of class for every hour in class. That alone is 48 hours per week. Add 20 hours per week for work and you end up with a 68 hour work week, not including any commute time. Add commute times, regular daily activities like bathing, eating and exercise and these students have each and every day filled from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they fall into their beds at night, exhausted. And so, most of them just go without, eating 25 cent blocks of ramen noodles three meals per day, every day, for weeks on end so they have some time to socialize and let off some steam. Needless to say I suppose, but that's not the kind of nutrition that a young person needs to continue their studies and remain healthy. Something needs to change regarding college students and SNAP.

Posted by Calichef on Dec. 02, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

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