Acting on the Call 2017

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House Farm Bill Would Increase Food Insecurity and Hardship
Hunger and undernourishment form a vicious circle, which is often 'passed on' from generation to generation: The government planners responsible for rationing and nutrition had done 'a stunningly good job' said the study's Director Michael Wadsworth. Since the WIC program encourages breast feeding, it raises a question similar to the foregoing: These estimates exclude households with gross income greater than the federal limit via the categorical eligibility option. FDA calls e-cigarettes 'an epidemic' among minors, cracks down on retailers The agency issued fines against retailers selling the e-cigs to minors. The proposed level is less, however, in inflation-adjusted terms than the level the program set when this limit was first established in Studies of children in Saudi Arabia and Canada showed that a diet of junk food and inadequate quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables led to an increased risk of developing asthma Tim Radford The Guardian 22 August

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And, given incarceration patterns in the United States, the provision likely would have a sharp racial bias, disproportionately compromising adequate nutrition for low-income African Americans, including poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated southern juries. Taking food away from those with criminal records flies in the face of bipartisan efforts to support individuals reentering society after release from incarceration.

Access to reentry services can help individuals while they work to attain self-sufficiency and avoid rearrest and reincarceration. SNAP is a critical part of a reentry infrastructure, providing basic food assistance and supplementing inadequate income.

Some evidence suggests that it reduces recidivism. Without the necessary assistance to get back on their feet, some persons leaving prison might be more likely to engage in illicit activity to obtain food and meet their basic needs. Furthermore, the provision would hurt families of barred individuals, including children, who would see their benefits cut as well.

Low-income families should not be punished for having a formerly incarcerated individual in their household or for helping their family member succeed with their rehabilitation by providing them shelter. The net effect would be a significant reduction in food assistance to low-income households.

The benefit enhancements include:. Capping exclusion for basic allowance for housing. Mandating homeless housing allowance. This provision would require all states to include a simplified deduction for homeless households with shelter costs and to index the amount of this deduction to inflation beginning in This deduction reduces the burden of producing documentation for, and verifying, expenses, which is especially significant for homeless people with transient living arrangements who may not receive or be able to consistently produce receipts or other forms of documentation for their shelter costs.

The deduction also simplifies the process of verifying these costs for states. Extending the policy to all states would be a positive policy improvement. The farm bill created an option to let states provide up to five months of transitional SNAP benefits to families that leave TANF cash assistance without requiring the family to reapply or submit additional paperwork or other information.

In , 22 states had transitional benefits of differing periods of up to five months. Enhancing earned income deduction. The rules disregard 20 percent of earned income when calculating benefits, which is meant to reflect income spent on work-related expenses like transportation and clothing that is, thus, not available to buy food.

Due to the earnings deduction, a household with earnings will receive a larger SNAP benefit than a household of the same size and gross income in which income comes from unearned sources.

So, an unemployed worker who can replace his or her income from unemployment insurance or cash assistance with a comparable level of earnings will take home more total income from earnings and SNAP than from unearned income and SNAP. The proposal would increase the earned income deduction from 20 percent to 22 percent of earnings.

The House bill would establish a duplicative enrollment database by expanding the National Accuracy Clearinghouse NAC to a nationwide, mandatory effort. An evaluation of the NAC found that less than 0. The most serious flaw relates to the privacy of current and past SNAP participants.

The data, which states would share with USDA each month, would be stored in the database for many years, if not indefinitely. This raises concerns about data security, privacy, and other potential uses of the information. Nor does it appear to provide any dedicated new funding for such measures, or to authorize USDA to slow or pause implementation under the aggressive time frames required, if the Agriculture Secretary believed that USDA could not protect the personal data of Americans.

This approach does not reflect current best practices for large data matches. The Federal Data Services Hub that the Department of Health and Human Services oversees under the Affordable Care Act facilitates matches between states and federal agencies and private vendors rather than gathering all the data together. This provision is another example of how the bill includes sweeping, untested proposals that would create risks for low-income Americans if the government does not execute them well.

The Committee materials suggest that no such data set exists. Actually, there is a longitudinal survey of income and program participation that includes much of the information that the House seeks.

It may be appropriate to give some SNAP operational functions to private contractors such as computer systems, building maintenances, custodial services, or debit card issuance in order to leverage their competitive advantage in these areas. But the government must retain others, like determining eligibility. Some SNAP clients, including many elderly persons, have complex cases that require trained, professional civil service workers to dedicate significant time to appropriately screen and verify their information and ensure they receive the correct benefit levels.

When these functions are turned over to for-profit companies, they may focus on the bottom line rather than providing comprehensive support to the needy. SNAP collects detailed information about applicants and participants, including Social Security numbers, household composition, and income and employment information.

Handing private data of millions of individuals over to private companies raises serious concerns about their ability to keep it secure and not use it for other purposes. When states have experimented with privatization in the past, the results have been disastrous.

During the early s, Texas and Indiana contracted for-profit companies to perform key parts of the eligibility process, including accepting applications, advising clients on program requirements and eligibility, and verifying eligibility.

Serious problems resulted in both states. In Texas, [39] for example, thousands were unable to apply or were given misinformation; many received incorrect benefit allotments or were wrongly denied benefits. And taxpayer dollars were wasted, as none of the promised performance improvements or cost savings which were slated to come from closing eligibility offices were realized. See Appendix II for summaries of each of these provisions. SNAP is a highly effective program targeted to households that need its help to meet basic food needs.

While its enrollment and spending are falling as the economy improves, [40] it provides vital assistance to over 40 million low-income Americans. The House nutrition title includes benefit cuts and harsh new work requirement that, among other problems, would hurt many poor working families, children, and individuals who struggle to find stable employment.

Coming just a few months after the tax-cut law, which will mainly benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations, this proposal represents the wrong vision for the country, one that would increase hardship and further widen inequality. Additional states have narrow categorical eligibility beyond cash assistance, but not affecting large numbers of households and may also have some households that would be cut off from SNAP. Additional states have narrow categorical eligibility beyond cash assistance, but not affecting large numbers of households and may also have some households that would be cut from SNAP.

These estimates exclude households with gross income greater than the federal limit via the categorical eligibility option. On May 18, the House adopted several amendments to the original, Agriculture Committee-approved bill before voting it down. On June 21, the House reconsidered and passed the bill as amended. Second, the same amendment cuts, from 15 to 12 percent, the share of adults subject to the work requirements that states could exempt.

It also changes the underlying pool of participants used to calculate the maximum percentage that states can exempt, which can be interpreted as expanding the pool. The net effect of these two changes on the number of exemptions available to states is unclear. The bill would pay for the additional amount needed to fund the grants and pilots by cutting benefits to low-income households, thus reducing their resources to buy food. Altering benefit accrual and expungement procedures.

SNAP benefits that go unspent need to be returned to the federal government, and existing law has a sound policy to deal with this. Even though only a very small share of total SNAP benefits sit unused — 97 percent are redeemed within a month of issuance [42] — the House bill would abbreviate these timeframes, allowing states to make unused benefits inaccessible after three months and cancel unused benefits after six months.

Very little is known about why some benefits go unused and what the appropriate policy change should be. Unused benefits may reflect lack of access issues rather than lack of need.

Some households, particularly seniors and those with intellectual disabilities, may face barriers to redeeming their assistance. They may need help understanding how to use their benefits and when they are replenished, or they may not have regular access to transportation to get to a store.

Alternatively, accruals may reflect that a household is economizing a modest benefit. Recipients of small SNAP monthly benefits may allow their benefits to accrue over several months so that they can cover household food costs entirely for one shopping trip or one month.

This proposal also would likely increase costs associated with electronic benefit transfer EBT contracts between states and EBT vendors. These new requirements could necessitate a change in the terms of service and may result in an increased charge by the companies that support EBT.

Eliminating the error tolerance threshold. When households apply for SNAP, states conduct a complex process to determine their eligibility based on income, expenses, and other household characteristics. Households must report their income and other relevant information, and states verify the accuracy of this information using data matches or paper documentation.

In addition, SNAP has a quality control QC process to ensure the accuracy of household eligibility and benefit amounts. States must sample a representative number of cases each month and state QC staff thoroughly review the accuracy of the original eligibility determination and benefit level. USDA further reviews a subset of these reviews and, based on these reviews, annually reports state overpayment and underpayment error rates; states can be assessed significant penalties for above-average error rates.

The House bill would eliminate the error threshold altogether and set the amount at zero. Some states may respond by requiring more paperwork and imposing other rules that aim to reduce errors but are more likely to create administrative burden and deter access to the program or reduce benefits. Increasing state retention of recovered overpayments. Under current law, states can retain 35 percent of the funds they recover from overpayments that they determine were not due to agency error.

This provides a modest incentive to states to pursue the claims, as SNAP benefits are percent federally funded and would otherwise be fully returned to the Treasury. The House bill would raise the state share to 50 percent and require states to use these funds for SNAP administration and operation.

Eliminating state performance bonuses. These modest, targeted payments reward states for high or improving performance related to program error rates and payment accuracy, application processing timeliness, and overall program access. USDA reviewed all states, executed corrective action plan agreements, and revised QC policy guidance and practices and procedures.

Eliminating all performance bonuses, as opposed to only those for exemplary or improved payment accuracy and error rates, goes beyond any concerns raised by the OIG. This proposal would remove important incentives for states to strengthen program administration, including by achieving high participation rates and providing benefits within federal timeliness standards. Further, states use these bonus payments to re-invest in SNAP, for example through improvements in technology, administration, and program integrity.

Imposing a new state requirement for EBT replacement cards. The farm bill set national policy regarding replacement EBT cards. Federal rules now require a household requesting more than four replacement cards in one year to explain why they have requested so many replacements; the SNAP agency must also review program rights and responsibilities with the household.

The House bill would require the state to review program rights and responsibilities after two card replacement requests, but would not change the rule requiring an explanation from the household only after the fourth replacement request.

Expanding USDA access to state systems. Currently, state SNAP agencies are responsible for maintaining records about the certification of applicant and participating households and about EBT issuance, and must make those records available for federal audit. While USDA needs to be able to access such records, this provision may provoke some concerns from state agencies.

They may be concerned about whether the requirement would contradict state privacy laws and policies, and states with systems that are integrated with other public benefits programs may be concerned about protecting non-SNAP client information. Prohibiting grant funds from being used to improve access to benefits.

USDA has used this authority to support innovative projects to create mobile apps that make applying for SNAP easier but that also provide clients with real-time information about their SNAP benefits, making it easier for them to ensure they are complying with program requirements.

USDA has also provided grants to improve communication between SNAP agencies and clients by utilizing text messaging and automated voice messaging.

Currently, they are routed through third-party commercial processors. Routing EBT transactions through a single national gateway would give the federal government more oversight into transactions and could lower costs. The provision directs the Secretary to conduct a feasibility study in advance of national implementation. Sections and Expanding the state option for EBT cardholder identification.

Current law allows states to require photographs on EBT cards, which has proven expensive and ineffective. The House bill would allow the use of other technologies to confirm the identity of the cardholder, like biometrics, which likely would create barriers to access and raise potential privacy concerns.

Authorizing the use of mobile technologies in stores to redeem SNAP benefits. Currently, retail food stores can redeem SNAP benefits through mobile technologies i. The House bill would shift responsibility for privacy protections and implementation costs to state agencies and requires up to five state pilot demonstration projects to test the technology before the Secretary authorizes implementation.

Enabling SNAP benefits to be redeemed online. Currently, online merchants are not included in the definition of retail food stores.

Establishing an annual transaction data report. The House bill would allow the Secretary to collect store transaction data that would include the cost and description of items purchased with SNAP benefits; USDA would use these data to compile a summary report on SNAP benefit use that is available to the public.

While the report would not identify individual retail food stores or household members, the proposal does not include safeguards to protect the data or prohibit their use for other purposes. Providing funding for USDA implementation. The bill requires the Secretary to conduct a review of the use of SNAP benefits in certain group living arrangements, including senior centers, and report results to Congress.

Extending authorization of appropriations to prevent retailer and recipient trafficking. Making multivitamin-mineral dietary supplements eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. The bill would allow SNAP participants to use their benefit allotment to purchase dietary supplements, despite a scientific consensus that nutritional needs be met primarily through food consumption.

However, for SNAP recipients who have limited budgets, expenditures on dietary supplements would likely substitute for food. Supporting the Ghana Health Service to the transition from pen and paper to a digital health record system, which will enable GHS to better manage patient cases and promote efficiency in data management.

Trained 5, health workers to ensure competency in the prevention of Zika virus infection, the provision of voluntary family planning, the management of child illness, and the improvement of WASH. USAID developed standard operating procedures and budget implications to facilitate this scale-up. Finalized a new Community Health Strategy, which introduced community health agents who increase access to health care in remote and hard to reach communities.

Integrated nutrition services into a planned vaccination campaign, which gave 8. Worked with Christian and Muslim religious leaders to advocate for the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy, stigma reduction among people living with HIV, and the prevention of gender-based violence. Helped administrative units to be declared open-defecation free, and trained 9, community and local government members to apply improved sanitation methods and sustain ODF status.

Assisted four laboratories in achieving international accreditation to conduct quality assurance testing of medicines, which means many maternal and child health drugs no longer need to be sent abroad for testing.

Transitioned from substantial financial and technical support for the community-based health insurance to targeted technical assistance only, as the insurance program has been transitioned to the Rwanda Social Security Board RSSB for ongoing management.

Conducted a mapping of the Senegalese private sector, which will provide the Ministry of Health and Social Action with an accurate and comprehensive database of 2, private facilities. Designed an effective contraceptive distribution system that, for the first time, enables the routine delivery of contraceptives to health facilities outside of the capital, Juba.

This effort will be funded jointly between the Government and other partners. The Acting on the Call report focuses on the journey to self-reliance for preventing child and maternal deaths. Department of Agriculture USDA civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information e. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To request a copy of the complaint form, call Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:. All public schools in Rhode Island are mandated by state law to provide lunches. Children from families with income: For additional program information contact: Here is the of listing of: Have closed any sites. Are adding new sites.

Please review and update your Agreement. All information associated with your Agreement will be carried forward except the following: Verification in a required part of school meal program administration. Verification must be completed annually by November 15th.. Below are links to resources to assist with the Verification process. Letter that household can send to employer Form E: USDA is now closely aligned with the: It is supported by USDA.

Here you will find information regarding the USDA meal pattern requirements.: Questions and Answers This memorandum provides guidance on meals served to preschoolers when they are in the same service area at the same time as grade K-5 students, and it includes Questions and Answers.

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