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Honoring Our Anti-Hunger Champions - Kip Tiernan; Western Mass tornado response

Massachusetts has gone through a lot in the past two months which are cause for pause, reflection and action.

Kip Tiernan - Hunger Champ Extra-ordinaire:
The Coalition would like to recognize and salute an important an anti-hunger troubadour, Kip Tiernan. Kip was the founder of Rosie's Place in Boston. She was an amazing activist for economic and social justice, an unwavering ally for low-income and homeless individuals and families in Massachusetts. Kip insisted that all low-income persons be treated with dignity and respect, including at shelters, soup kitchens and welfare offices. The Food Stamp Improvement Coalition was founded in 2000 by Rosie's Place, and Kip's voice and vision inspired our work in the early stages as we started to tackle the then outrageously low food stamp participation rate here in Massachusetts (yes, MA had the worst FS participation rate in the US - 51st inlcuding DC!). Kip died last week at the age of 85 after a battle with cancer.

Here's a link to the wonderful Globe editorial honoring the life and work of Kip, a "prisoner of hope" who firmly believed in finding a way to end hunger and poverty. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/blogs/the_angle/2011/07/remembering_kip.html Rosie's Place has advised us that there will be a memorial service for Kip on Sunday, September 10 at 11 a.m. at Old South Church in Copley Square, Boston. (Editors Note:  Date has been changed from Sept. 18 to Sept 10.) In the meanwhile, if you would like to honor Kip with a financial donation, please consider a donation to Rosie's Place: http://www.rosiesplace.org/ or to another organization that serves low income persons in your community.


Western Mass Disaster SNAP tornado response:
Each year, USDA asks for nominations for the "Hunger Champion Award" to recognize "local county offices that provide exemplary service in assisting eligible clients to obtain SNAP benefits". (Nominations are accepted for SNAP state agency offices, not individuals or non-profits doing SNAP outreach.) On June 28th, the Food SNAP Coalition nominated the Western Mass DTA offices for their response to the June 2011 tornado response efforts. The two Springfield DTA offices and Southbridge, along with satellite offices, provided over 10,000 Western Mass households with Disaster SNAP benefits, replacement and/or supplemental SNAP. Based on the information we received from many sources, the speed and manner in which tornado-affected households were screened and benefits delivered was outstanding - it would likely have met with Kip approval! Here's the link to the Coalition's 2011 Hunger Champion nomination: masslegalservices.org/node/38251

Note - USDA has extended the deadline for Hunger Champion Nominations to Friday, July 22nd. If you or your organization would like to support this nomination or nominate another DTA office for the award, please do so by filling out the form at the following link and sending on some details: fns.usda.gov/snap/outreach/coalition/2011_hunger_champions.htm


Be a Hunger Champ TODAY and Call Senators Kerry and Brown:
We need your help TODAY to protect entitlements from the federal debt ceiling debates. National groups have asked us to make two calls today and tomorrow: Please call Senators Brown and Kerry (toll free at 888-907-1485) and tell them that middle-class and struggling families must not bear the brunt of the budget cuts. Ask them to demand a budget plan that reduces the deficit responsibly and works for all Americans – not just millionaires and big business. Urge Senators Brown and Kerry to oppose harmful cuts or caps to programs serving our nation’s most vulnerable communities.

Tell them: Please prevent harmful cuts or caps to low/moderate-income programs in the negotiations to reduce the deficit. Please insist on fair increases in revenues to prevent reckless cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and other essential services!!