Be An Advocate for Hunger!
Food Bank of the Rockies advocates to fight hunger both locally and on the national level through Feeding America. Please see updates below for ways you can help!
The House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that will give agricultural producers a tax break of up to $5,000 on crops and livestock donated to hunger relief charities. Reps. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth) sponsored the bill.
Our CEO, Kevin Seggelke, representing both Food Bank of the Rockies and Feeding Colorado, testified in support of the bill along with supporters from Hunger Free Colorado, the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Food Bank for Larimer County, Weld County Food Bank, His Hands Christian Ministries and others during the committee hearing. No opposition to the bill was presented.
HB14-1119 will now be heard by the House Finance Committee.
The Farm Bill
Congress voted to pass the Farm Bill today. It now awaits the President’s signature. For three years, Feeding America, Food Bank of the Rockies and our fellow Feeding America member food banks and many constituents have fought tooth and nail to ensure that the Farm Bill protects hunger-relief programs and advances our mission of a hunger-free America.
Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we prevented the most harmful cuts, however, any reduction in SNAP benefits will have a significant impact. The $8.6 billion cut means that 850,000 SNAP recipients will lose an average of $90 in monthly benefits. That’s real food for families who are struggling.
Thank you for supporting our efforts in Washington to help hungry people. Can you do one more thing for us today?
- Please send this email to your Members of Congress to visit Food Bank of the Rockies so they understand what hunger looks like in their community. We encourage you to customize it in your own words.
The Farm Bill
The House of Representatives has approved the Farm Bill by a vote of 251-166, with 15 members not voting. The bill passed with 89 Democratic votes and 162 Republican votes. The Senate is expected to begin procedural moves this week so that a Senate vote on the Farm Bill will take place on Monday next week.
As a reminder, highlights from the nutrition title include the following (all numbers are 10-year budget numbers):
- $8.55 billion cut to SNAP by tightening the “Heat and Eat” policy, which would affect the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- $205 million increase for TEFAP. The TEFAP funding would be frontloaded to provide greater resources in the initial three years of the bill, with an additional $50 million in FY2015, $40 million in FY2016, $20 million in FY2017, $15 million in FY2018 and FY2019, $16 million in FY2020, FY2021, and FY2022, and $17 million in FY2023. The funding is indexed for food price inflation. This funding also has the same transfer authority as TEFAP mandatory funding, allowing states to transfer up to 10% of the funding into TEFAP storage and distribution grants.
- Establishes the Dairy Donation Program. If dairy prices fall below a specific price trigger for 5 consecutive months, USDA is authorized to begin a dairy purchase program, with the dairy products going to public and private nonprofit organizations, and with instructions for USDA to consult with nonprofits on the type of dairy products requested. While there is no set cost, this would provide additional commodities much like TEFAP bonus commodities do when prices are low enough to trigger USDA price support.
- $250 million for states to pilot innovative programs help SNAP participants get back to work.
- Clarifies allowable SNAP outreach activities (for example, forbids outreach workers from receiving rewards on a per-head basis for number of applications processed).
- Improves SNAP access by allowing SNAP home delivery for homebound seniors and disabled participants.
- Promotes access to nutritious food by tightening stocking requirements for SNAP retailers and testing new ways to use EBT cards (for example, swiping on a mobile device at a farmers’ market).
- Improves SNAP integrity through new measures to combat trafficking of benefits by retailers and recipients and policy changes forbidding benefits for lottery winners and affluent college students.
- Transitions the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) to a senior only program, allowing women and children currently participating in the program to remain on the caseload.
- Protects SNAP nutrition education.
Feeding America released their press statement regarding the bill. You can read it here.
Please contact the OMB
The farm bill authorizes TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) Storage and Distribution funds at $100 million a year, but unfortunately the annual appropriations has been $49 million in recent years.
We need your help in asking your Member of Congress to weigh in with the Income Maintenance Department at OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to ask them to increase TEFAP Storage and Distribution funds in the President’s Budget. OMB can be reached at 202-395-4686.
When you contact them, please deliver the following message:
- TEFAP Storage and Distribution funds are authorized by the Farm Bill at $100 million a year, unfortunately the annual appropriations has been around $49 million in recent years.
- Without adequate federal assistance, we will not be unable to afford the rising costs associated with storing and distributing emergency food commodities.
- It would be unfortunate if local and emergency feeding agencies had to reduce client services due to a lack of funding to safely store and distribute those foods.
- TEFAP Storage and Distribution funds are critical to helping our food banks defray the costs of storing, transporting, and distributing TEFAP commodities, particularly in hard-to-serve rural and geographically remote areas.
- With food banks already struggling to respond to a sustained increase in demand, they need additional help to combat the rising costs associated with storing and distributing emergency food.
Help Us Increase Food Donations! Please Ask Your Member of Congress to Support and Cosponsor H.R. 2945 and S. 1395.
As the Feeding America network collaborates with the food industry to identify new sources of potential food donations throughout the nation, federal tax incentives have the potential to help secure millions of additional donation pounds. Food Bank of the Rockies is working with Feeding America and Congressional supporters to improve federal tax incentives, and we need your help!
Since 1976 larger donors (c corporations) have been able to take an enhanced tax deduction when donating wholesome food to nonprofits. It was not until 2006 that smaller donors (non c corporations) were able to realize the same deduction, when Congress temporarily expanded the enhanced food donation tax deduction to include all business taxpayers. Since 2006 this provision has expired and been retroactively renewed by Congress several times. Most recently, the expansion to include small businesses expired at the end of 2013. This provision has already helped secure additional food donations since 2006, with a 137% increase in food donated just in the restaurant industry. Permanent expansion of the enhanced deduction for small businesses and farmers is needed to maximize the potential donation opportunity, and Feeding America is working with Congress to make that happen.
While Congress considers either renewing expired tax extenders or addressing comprehensive tax reform, we need you to ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation. We know that with over 70 billion pounds of food wasted each year in America, the right tax incentives could change the donation dynamics in a significant way! Earlier in 2013 members of both the House and the Senate reintroduced this important legislation.
- H.R. 2945, introduced by Representatives Sander Levin and Jim Gerlach
- S. 1395. introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy, Bob Casey, Thad Cochran and Jerry Moran
Please urge your members to support this legislation. We have some resources for you to use as you reach out to Congress, including:
Can you contact your Congressperson and advocate on behalf of the hungry?
Calling Congress is easy! Here’s how:
- Call our advocacy hotline at (888) 398-8702
- Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
- Connect to your Representative first. Once you are connected to your Representative, state that you are a constituent and give your name and your hometown. Be sure to give the name of the food bank or local agency you are affiliated with as well.
- Let them know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver this important message:
As your constituent and supporter of Food Bank of the Rockies, I am calling you today to ask you to oppose cutting SNAP and ensure that $300 million is invested in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) for food banks in the final Farm Bill. I understand the need to reduce the deficit, but increasing hunger is not the way to do it.
- Dial back in to make sure you talk to both of your Senators and your Representative.
Recruit others by spreading the word through your social media channels and share our posts for call-in day so others can help too.
Thanks for helping us be a voice for food banks and our neighbors in need at this critical time.
We appreciate your help!