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National press on food prices, recession housing and photo IDs

TO: Food SNAP Coalition Members

FR: Pat Baker

The Food Research Action Center recently flagged these news items which Coalition members may find of interest and usefulness in local press, grant-writing or affirmation of what you and your clients are seeing. The increase in food costs underscores the importance of the food stamp/SNAP program and the ARRA increase in benefits from April of 2009. It is critical the SNAP be protected to adequately fund benefits! With respect to the growth in shared hosing, it is critical to inform doubled up households that they need not be in the same food stamp/SNAP household if they purchase and preare the majority of food separate from others they live with. The third article highlights a growing problem regarding use of photo IDs to access key benefits. Thankfully, the City Board of Commissioners in Hollywood, FL nixed this idea, as did the Massachusetts Department of Early and Secondary Education (DESE) -which administers TEFAP - when they issued guidance last Fall instructing food banks that photo IDs cannot be required as verification of identity for persons seeking TEFAP food (photo IDs are one of many forms of identification, but not the sole form of ID).



USDA Says Food Prices Will Rise in 2011 (The New York Times, January 5, 2011)

USDA is predicting that retail food prices will rise two to three percent overall in 2011, less than 2008’s 5.5 percent food inflation, but higher than the inflation rate of the last two years. Food prices in the U.S. rose by an annualized rate of 1.4 percent in November 2010 (the last month with available data.) Worldwide, the food price index – a measure of commodity prices on the world export market - increased 32 percent between June and December 2010, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The increase has brought worldwide food prices closer to the crisis levels from two years ago. “We are at a very high level,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist for the Rome-based organization. “These levels in the previous period led to problems and riots across the world.”



Recession Forces Families and Friends to Share Housing (The New York Times, December 28, 2010)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of multifamily households increased 11.7 percent between 2008 and 2010 to 15.5 million households, or 13.2 percent of all households. That figure may be low, as the Census figures don’t account for single brothers and single sisters living together, or a childless adult moving in with his or her parents. The increased numbers suggest that the “Great Recession has altered the country’s social fabric,” with “relatives and friends [moving in] together as a last resort.” It’s “one of the most concrete, yet unexplored, demographic shifts.” For people moving in with friends and relatives, it’s the last step before having to live in their cars or in homeless shelters. A recent report found that half of people homeless in 2009 had been staying with friends and relatives. Between 2009 and 2010, the average income of multifamily households fell by more than 5 percent, according to a New York Times analysis of census “microdata” prepared by the state population center at the University of Minnesota. The data suggests that many living in these shared arrangements are struggling financially.

Homeless in Florida Won’t Need ID’s to Access Soup Kitchens (, January 6, 2011)
A plan to have the homeless of Hollywood, Fla., use ID cards to access soup kitchens was struck down by the city’s board of commissioners. Commissioner Beam Furr had proposed the idea, which would withhold funding from the Jubilee Kitchen if it did not start requiring identification for its services. Furr believed that identification would help poor people access SNAP/Food Stamps and other social services. Several commissioners termed Furr’s proposal “immoral.” Mayor Peter Bober said that requiring ID’s would force hungry people back onto the streets, and Police Chief Chadwick Wagner said “I can tell you I have a 15-year-old daughter in high school and there are times she can’t even find her ID to get her lunch.”

REMINDER: Food SNAP Improvement Coalition, TOMORROW, January 25th from 10 AM to Noon at ABCD, 178 Tremont Street, Boston (this is a CHANGE in location from St Francis House)