Money, Money, Money, Monnneeeyyy!

“Money, money, money, moneyyyyy!” It is true that if you follow the money you know who controls the topic, issue, or cause. In the case of hunger relief, I tried to follow the money and found that the government sections the money intro federal and state money and they divide it further to money for hunger relief and hunger relief for children.  The United States (US) Government The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) : Background and Funding document (2018) states that annually the money used is about 250,000,000-260,000,000 dollars annually.  That seems like a lot of money if we are just talking but compared to how much the US spends on medical services and pharmaceuticals which is estimated to be 350,000,000-450,000,000 dollars. In comparison, it is small and honestly, it makes me furious that we spend so much money on medications alone but not ending hunger and food insecurity.

Feeding America has an amazing chart which highlights the major stakeholders and whom they serve:

On there website you can go in and then click on each group and the link for their website comes up explaining each government/state/private entity: https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/advocate/federal-hunger-relief-programs

In terms of sustaining and creating innovation for hunger relief and food insecurity President Obama and his administration created and passed The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79) also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, was signed into law by President Obama on February 7, 2014.  The 2014 Farm Bill made many important changes to SNAP. Among the retailer related provisions, it required FNS to update the stocking standards used to authorize SNAP retailers and provided additional resources to fight retailer fraud.  It also called for pilot testing the use of mobile devices to redeem SNAP benefits and to pilot test accepting SNAP benefits through online transactions. The pilot programs are creating innovative devices to reach those who are unable to travel for food or to track the communities’ food needs.  The bill authorized $200 million in new funding for up to 10 three-year pilot projects to rigorously evaluate new approaches to move SNAP participants into work or higher paying jobs. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the definition of retailer to include government agencies and not-for-profits that purchase and deliver food to the elderly and/or disabled, thus allowing for testing of home delivery for these vulnerable populations, and allowed agricultural producers who market directly to consumers to accept EBT.  The Farm Bill also authorized Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grants to incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetables among SNAP participants at retailers like grocery stores and farmers markets (USDA, 2019).

Food insecurity and hunger relief DESERVE everyone attention and priority! The fact that Maricopa County has the 5th worst rating for children going hunger and not having enough to eat is a disgrace to this place I call home. Stand with me and be an active citizen! Go volunteer with your local food bank. Give your tax deduction donation to help food insecurity. Host a family for a holiday. Get involved with the Youth Changing America movement: https://ysa.org/10waystoendhunger/

Do whatever you can small or big to help the least of these and always remember you are one decision or accident from being these people as well! Thanks for following me this semester as I discuss this topic. Love and Light, Wairimu.

References:

Congressional Research Service, & Billings, K. C. (2018). The emergency food assistance program (TEFAP): Background and funding (R45408). Retrieved from Congressional Research Service website: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45408.pdf

Feeding America. (2018). Federal food assistance programs. Retrieved from Feeding America website: https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/advocate/federal-hunger-relief-programs

United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. (2018, September 17). A short history of SNAP. Retrieved from United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/short-history-snap

United States Department of Agriculture. (2018, April 25). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

Youth Service America. (2014, December 2). 10 Ways to End Hunger. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from https://ysa.org/10waystoendhunger/

Yu, N., Attberry, P., & Bach, P. (2018, July 31). Spending On Prescription Drugs In The US: Where Does All The Money Go?. Retrieved from https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20180726.670593/full/

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4 thoughts on “Money, Money, Money, Monnneeeyyy!

  1. That is fascinating that the US Government Emergency Food Assistance Program spends $250-$260 million annually. I am always captivated by the discrepancy between how much money it costs to fix or address a problem compared to the cost of preventing the problem. Most can agree that the issue of food insecurity is rooted in the deeper issue of poverty. So, it is no mystery that efforts to address hunger are in tandem with efforts to end poverty at the same time.
    I found a really interesting study that discussed the investment required to end poverty by 2030. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) prepared a study suggesting that an extra investment of $160 per every poor individual would sustainably eliminate poverty and hunger (FAO, IFAD, & WFP, 2015). One of the key words in this statement is ‘sustainably.’ Investment in social protection, and investment in agriculture and rural development are the two mechanisms purported by the FAO, IFAD, and WFP to pull individuals out of poverty, thus ending hunger. These numbers, however, reflect the goal of ending worldwide hunger, so they likely will look different for specifically Arizona. Even still, the document outlines a very well-thought out roadmap for addressing this issue, and most likely many of the concepts could be adapted for Arizona. Determining where the funding would come from in Arizona would require a significant dive into our current state budget to understand what funds could be reallocated toward this effort. For example, on the surface it seems simple to reallocate some of the funds from the Emergency Food Assistance Program, but I believe there are certain rules that maintain that emergency funds cannot be used towards preventative measures. So, there lies the issue that most people face when going before policy makers and asking for money: making the case. Moral obligation to help the poor and hungry are not enough, unfortunately. I believe one must demonstrate a sufficient return on investment for any funds requested for a project this size. How would you begin to quantify the suffering and build a case to demonstrate how investing in eliminating poverty could ultimately benefit society? (beyond the obvious fact that it is the right thing to do?)

    FAO, IFAD, & WFP. (2015). Achieving zero hunger: the critical role of investments in social protection and agriculture. Retrieved from https://azwheat.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/achieving-zero-hunger.pdf

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  2. Anonymous

    Wai, the figures on expenditures on food are in striking contrast to the amount spent on medications. I often ask clients if they are on food stamps, actually it was renamed to SNAP, Supplemental nutrition assistance program. Those on SNAP through EBT needs to report to IRS on their expenditures [1]. SNAP depends on income eligibility, the table below shows eligibility standards for fiscal year 2019.

    Income eligibility standards are set by law. Gross monthly income limits are set at 130 percent of the poverty level for the household size. Net monthly income limits are set at 100 percent of poverty.

    Reference:
    [1] Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) USDA. Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-application-and-local-office-locators

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  3. Sarah Richhart

    Your post on the financial implications of hunger relief was very interesting. I found the comparison between the cost of food and pharmaceuticals to be especially surprising. I wanted to know more about Arizona specifically, so I looked up Arizona on the Feeding America website; and found that “1 in 4 children struggles with hunger” and, “People facing hunger in Arizona are estimated to report needing $506,275,000 more per year to meet their food needs” (Feeding America, 2018). It takes the charitable programs in addition to government assistance like SNAP to support those who struggle with hunger (Feeding America, 2018). However, the available programs are clearly not enough because people are still struggling. I would be curious to know what solutions you see for the future in regard to those experiencing hunger. You mentioned Maricopa County as the 5th worst for children being hungry. I am a native to Maricopa County, so I also found this shocking. As a pediatric healthcare provider, I think it will be crucial to screen for food insecurity, as you recommended in a previous post. There are so many more people than I realize who are in need of food resources. One thing I have done is volunteer at local food banks, which I found to be rewarding and necessary, so I hope others recognize the need and do the same.

    Reference:
    Feeding America. (2018). Hunger in Arizona. Retrieved from https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/arizona

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