February 22, 2022 00:30:41
Just a Bite

Feb 22 2022 | 00:30:41


Show Notes

It’s 2-22-22, on a Tuesday no less! Yes, today is the last palindrome date until January 20, 3021 and since neither of us plan on being alive in a millennium from now, your Just a Bite podcast duo wanted to celebrate Twos-day with a look-back at some other important dates related to food security, nutrition, poverty, foodbanking, and more. Join us for a discussion about some of the data and dates of our past and present on this Twos-day! 


Feeding America: History of Food Banks  

Feeding America: Our Lawmakers Must Invest in TEFAP  

Congressional Research Service TEFAP Background and Funding  

“2 years after Hesiman speech, Burrow’s contribution still being felt by Ohio food pantry,” Whitney Harding, NBC4  

AOF Public Benefits Eligibility Infographic   

AOF Winter 2022 Family Checklist  

Make sure you are getting all the tax credits that you are entitled to here.   

Email and call your U.S. representative to support an additional $900 million in TEFAP funding.   

Find your local foodbank to find help, volunteer, and donate here.   

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Want more updates? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and take our latest hunger-fighting actions!   

We are licensed to use the song, Goals and Dreams by Boomer, which is distributed and owned by PremiumBeat.  

Ohio Association of Foodbanks is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization without party affiliation or bias. We are Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger and our mission is to assist Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks in providing food and other resources to people in need and to pursue areas of common interest for the benefit of people in need.

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Episode Transcript

Joree N. 00:00:17 It's 2/22/22 on a Tuesday, no less. Yes. Today is the last palindrome date until get this January 20th, 3021. And since neither of us plan on being alive, a millennium from now, your Just a Bite podcast duo wanted to celebrate this Twos-day with a look back at some other important dates related to food security, nutrition, poverty, food banking, and more. So we're excited to be with you today for a discussion about some of the data and dates of our past and present on this Tuesday. Joree N. 00:01:04 I have to tell you, Sarah, I am not usually very superstitious, but I do love to find meaning in numbers and dates and data also has its place. Of course. So let's have a little fun with some numbers on this auspicious state in history. So I'll start with an easy one pop quiz. What do we have an even dozen of? Sarah K. 00:01:29 Ah, that would be our member food banks. So we have 12 member food banks serving all 88 counties in Ohio. Um, and then under them we have partner agencies. So those are things like pantries, soup kitchens, hot meal programs, and supplemental feeding sites. And we have 3,700 of them. Speaking of food banks, when was the first food bank in the country established, Joree? Joree N. 00:02:05 Oh yeah. Over my tenure. I've learned some of this history of food banking. So the concept of food banking was actually developed by a gentleman named John van Hengel, um, over in Arizona. And that was in the late 1960s. And he eventually went on to, uh, found what is now Feeding America, our national network of food banks, formerly, um, America’s Second Harvest. And, um, Mr. Van Hengel used to be a volunteer at a soup kitchen before food banking was an industry and he was always trying his best to find food, to be able to create into meals to the people in his community that were facing hunger. And, you know, he told the story about one day meeting, a mother who was desperate and rummaging through garbage bins for that had been tossed by local grocery stores. And she suggested to him, you know, there should be a place where food could be stored for people to pick up. Joree N. 00:03:08 That's the idea of the word bank and our food banking. So really rooted in that history from all the way back, what, um, nearly 70 years ago, if I'm doing my math, right. Um, is this idea of not letting food go to waste the idea that perfectly good food should not be thrown away, but should be salvaged and redirected to people who couldn't purchase it on their own, um, in that first-line market place. So with that, uh, kind of light bulb went off for him and an industry was born. He established the St Mary's food bank, and that was the nation's very first food bank. And about a decade later, there were food banks established in 18 cities across the country. So, um, you know, grew pretty quickly. And we here in Ohio are lucky to have, um, a really sound solid and collaborative network of food banks. Joree N. 00:04:11 You know, you were talking about our 12 Feeding America food banks, who are our members. And we've talked before in other podcasts about how that's, how we originated because they all came together in recognition that they needed a voice to add power to what they're trying to do. And they do the same for their partner agencies that you mentioned. So for those 3,700 different access points, many of them are faith based organizations that are operating local food pantries and soup kitchens. Many are place-based. So they're located at health clinics, schools, community colleges, libraries, daycares, um, and others, you know, are located at social service agencies, community actions, homeless shelters, and, um, all of those agencies turn to their regional food bank to help get access to a wide variety of food, to make sure that they can meet the needs of the people they're serving locally. Joree N. 00:05:16 And, and that works for them as well because they can get that food at little, to no cost to them rather than going out, you know, to their local retailer and purchasing that food. So we're, we've really evolved over many decades as a sophisticated network, even though we're very rooted in faith-based organizations, in, um, being charitable and charitably driven and philanthropically driven, we, we are also really rooted and doing things efficiently and doing them collaboratively. So it's a really cool history. Um, and you know, things are a little bit different depending on what state you're in, in a lot of different ways. Um, here in Ohio, for example, our food banks are mandated to serve households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. So for those wonks listening, we know, you know, what the federal poverty level is. You probably talk about that every day. Joree N. 00:06:16 Um, folks that are working with clients and with public benefits, know all about the federal poverty levels and we'll link to those. So you can explore some more, our friends at Advocates for Ohio’s Future have a great resource that, that breaks that down. Um, so one way to think about it is for a family of three that's about $3,800 a month, and that's before taxes. Um, so, you know, households that fall below that rate are eligible for our services. I wonder Sarah, how many Ohioans do you think fall into that category? Sarah K: Oh, isn't it about a third of the state? Joree N: She nailed it, folks, you got it – more than three and a half million Ohioans or nearly a third of the state, and this is pre COVID, have incomes low enough to qualify for help from our network. And it's important to understand, of course not everyone who would qualify based on their income do come to us for help. Joree N. 00:07:15 Um, some of those folks came to us for the first time because of COVID, you know, they lost that one paycheck and that was enough to throw them into a crisis situation. We do have some folks that come for help frequently. Um, often they're older adults or people living with disabilities who have fixed incomes that aren't keeping up with their living expenses, you know, as it gets more expensive to buy food in the store, but your social security benefits aren't going up, you can't really keep up with that. And that's where we come in to fill the gaps. Uh, other people have young kids and high childcare costs. They may be earn a little bit too much to qualify for SNAP. And so they turned to our network for help with putting food on the table for their kids. And of course we know that sometimes folks come into a crisis like after a job loss, a death and illness or injury, as well as some folks that come just here or there when their money won't stretch, because they have one of those unexpected expenses. Joree N. 00:08:13 Again, they're living paycheck to paycheck. And when one of those paychecks has to go toward a flat tire, a leaking roof, they don't find themselves with enough food at the end of the month to feed their families. So, um, you know, it's been really different during COVID and during the pandemic, how the different situations involved with, you know, just at this latest wave of Omicron, we know that the federal mandate for paid leave that was in place for a large part of the pandemic was gone. So there are many employers who are no longer providing paid sick leave. If someone was ill from COVID in isolating, if someone were at home with their children who were in quarantine. And so that threw people into another income related crisis, um, anytime they have, you know, a childcare situation come up and they can't report to work, that's lost wages for many, many workers working those jobs that don't pay adequately for them to always afford their basic needs on their own. Joree N. 00:09:21 And, um, we also just know the instability and the uncertainty and the different fluctuations in support or lack thereof. We know that the advanced expanded child tax credits were really helpful for families with kids for the last six months or so of 2021. And now they've gone away. They haven't been reauthorized. And, you know, that took something out of, you know, a few hundred dollars per kid, that folks had to give them some wiggle room. And we know that largely people were spending those funds on food and other basic needs. So, um, that got taken right out of their food purchasing budget. So, you know, it's interesting the different, um, frequency that folks are coming to us for help. But yeah, we know that at any day we could theoretically have three and a half million people, um, you know, finding themselves in crisis, which is what March and April of 2020 looked like. Joree N. 00:10:18 So, you know, I know that right now, part of what we're advocating for is an additional $900 million in funding for the emergency food assistance program or TEFAP. Um, as we've spoken about before provides our food banks with a core, um, portion of the commodities that they have on their shelves to offer to those 3,700 agencies and those millions of Ohioans that turn to them for help. So, um, we're really hoping for that in the next federal spending package, because we know we're going to need it to keep food on the shelves. So Ohio gets about 3.84% of that TEFAP pool on a formula. So if that $900 million dollars were authorized, that would be about 34 and a half million dollars toward the purchase of agricultural commodities. Um, I'd love it if you could tell us a little bit more about TEFAP Sarah, do you happen to know when it was first created? Sarah K. 00:11:21 Yeah, so like Joree said, TEFAP is one of our main sources of food and TEFAP was established as the temporary emergency food assistance program by the emergency food assistance act of 1983, that law continues to govern, uh, program operations while the food and nutrition act provides mandatory funding authority for TEFAP commodities. Um, there are levels set in statute that funding is based on, and for fiscal year 2020 appropriations provided $322.3 million and mandatory funding for TEFAPs entitlement commodities. So there are entitlement commodities, and then there are also bonus commodities, which are distributed at USDA's discretion throughout the year. Um, and that is to support different crops. And that uses a separate budget authority. The USDA purchased $308.9 million worth of bonus commodities for TEFAP and fiscal year 2018, which is the latest year that we have the data, of course, like many funding sources and sources of food there definitely administrative and distribution costs. Sarah K. 00:12:59 And so there's a smaller amount of cash assistance. Um, in fiscal year 2020, that was $79.6 million. Um, and that is appropriated to cover those costs under the emergency food assistance act authority. And of course these administrative funds are discretionary, um, FNS, which is the food and nutrition service, which is under the USDA coordinates the purchasing of commodities and the allocation of commodities and administrative funds to states, um, and provides general program oversight, state agencies, often state departments of health and human services, um, agriculture or nutrition determine program eligibility rules and allocations of aid to feeding organizations, which they call recipient agencies, states often task food banks, um, which operate huge regional warehouses and have, um, the capacity to distribute large amounts of food. Um, with distributing these, these TEFAP foods to other recipient agencies in Ohio, our food banks typically distribute to our partner agencies. Sarah K. 00:14:31 So those food pantries and soup kitchens, as well as other recipient agencies and the nutritious food purchased with TEFAP funds by USDA are produced by American farmers and growers and producers to then donate and distribute to the country's food banks or other emergency feeding organizations. These foods include produce, nuts, dairy, whole grains and meat. Um, and because of this and the really strong partnership between farmers and food banks TEFAP is very popular. Uh, TEFAP aid is the largest source of federal support for emergency food organizations and makes up a modest proportion of the food and funds available to these organizations, which are also reliant on private donations. In Ohio TEFAP makes up about 25% of our sources of food. So there are other federal food distribution programs that focus on specific sub populations. Um, for example, the federal emergency management agency, or FEMA's emergency food and shelter program distributes food to homeless individuals and USDA's commodity supplemental food program distributes food to low income older adults TEFAP is typically amended and reauthorized through farm bells, which we'll be seeing one of those and year or so. Sarah K. 00:16:14 Um, most recently the 2018 farm bill extended funding for TEFAPs and entitlement entitlement commodities through fiscal year 2023. The law also funded new projects aimed at incorporating non federally donated foods into the program or reducing food waste. So, you know, continually trying to make this program more innovative and meet more of the need. And, you know, like Joree said, uh, we're asking for an additional $900 million in TEFAP. And that's, that's really because, you know, as we continue to recover from the pandemic, we are going to, to need more funding to make sure that we're keeping up with the need. Unfortunately, as some of these other COVID of flexibilities kind of go away and expire. Um, a lot of the folks that haven't been going to the food bank during the pandemic will inevitably have to go come back to our lines because of not having that money in their budgets anymore, you know, and not only will we see more folks coming to our food bank lines, we'll also, we've also been having some difficulty, you know, with inflation, rising cost of food, um, due to economic pressures and supply chain shortages, we are spending more and getting less in terms of how much food we can can purchase. Sarah K. 00:18:02 And of course, you know, that makes it difficult as our need is staying the same or, um, increasing, um, throughout the next couple of months. So we are, we're pushing for that. And we really hope that you will too. We have a campaign that you all can join and call your us representatives to, um, support that ask. But Joree, I know you've been a part of Ohio's food banking network for almost 13 years now. Um, I'm curious what some other dates are during that time, that stick out to you. Joree N. 00:18:45 Yeah. I'm laughing when you put it like that. It's like, oh yeah, that's an interesting question. I remember really vividly. Uh, well, I started in food banking out of college at the height of the great recession. Um, I started at the Akron Canton Regional food bank, shout out to my folks in Akron as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for a year where I really got to get some on the ground food banking experience. And, um, at that time, the time limit that had been, um, instituted as part of statute and the, in a previous, you know, a decades old farm bill package, the time limit on unemployed adults without dependents had at that point, been waived for several years in Ohio. So I'm talking about 2009. It had already been waived for several years, going back to the first recession in the early 2000s. And I remember in October, 2013, we learned last minute that Ohio was not going to accept the statewide waiver to that time limit, um, Ohio elected to reinstate that time limit. Joree N. 00:20:02 Um, even though they didn't have to. And even though, um, conditions were still precarious for a lot of people who had been out of the workforce, um, who were struggling to get reliable, consistent employment, given all of the changes in many sectors at the time. And just as a quick reminder, that time limit means that if you're an unemployed adult without dependents between 18 and 50, you can only receive SNAP three months out of every three years, unless you participate in certain mandated work training. We don't ever like to think of access to food, being tied to your ability to find work day to day. Access to enough food is just about human dignity. Nobody is staying out of the workforce because they can get a couple hundred dollars a month to eat off of. It's not enough to feed yourself. And it's certainly not enough to put a roof over your head and get you all the other things that you want in your life. Joree N. 00:21:09 So anyway, it was a really last minute, um, and surprising decision for us. And at the same time, November of that year in 2013, the boosts to SNAP benefits that had gone into effect with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act out of the Great Recession were rolled back. So benefits for the whole SNAP caseload went down and many people were suddenly kicked off of the program. So that was a bit of a crisis for us as emergency food providers. Uh, comparatively speaking, of course, it pales to, uh, 2020, but you know, those are people who don't have access to really any other resources or supports. They can't get cash assistance anymore. Almost all of our cases of cash assistance in Ohio are child only. Um, very few adults are participating in our cash assistance program now, and there's no other help for them, aside from us. Joree N. 00:22:13 Um, are a lot of our policies are really geared toward families with kids and older adults. And it just makes it really difficult for someone between jobs or someone trying to reinvent themselves. Someone's struggling with, um, you know, mental health or addiction issues, anything like that, to be able to feed themselves when they're in crisis. Um, you know, and then I think that's something that we all still, as, as hunger advocates are hopeful that we can make a permanent change with, because it is an example where you see different states applying policies differently, and these are federal food benefits. So it's really at the end of the day, um, you know, it tells you a lot about what a state's priorities are and what their values are and what your state government believes in. So another date that sticks out to me is the farm bill in 2018. Joree N. 00:23:07 It was, uh, uh, a fairly, uh, it ended up being a pretty strong bi-partisan bill, but not after a lot of, a lot of fights and a lot of compromising and a lot of defense of the programs, um, particularly on the nutrition assistance side of things, there were some really harmful provisions proposed. And, um, later on, after that process, after we were successful in protecting SNAP in the 2018 farm bill, we saw some of those proposals trickled down to the state level. So then out of that, we've seen ourselves caught, you know, for a few years now in these, in these fights and battles to protect that federal nutrition assistance program at the state level, which, um, you know, has a lot of us spinning our wheels on things that we'd like to just be accepted as common sense that we shouldn't say no to federal food benefits to keep people fed. Joree N. 00:24:03 But of course, um, you know, the, the date that sticks out to me the most, and I'll, I'll try not to get emotional talking about it. Cause I know we're all exhausted at this point about, um, living in this pandemic world, but, you know, I'm sure like many folks I'll never forget where I was when Governor DeWine first announced that he was going to close Ohio's K through 12 schools that was before a stay at home order had been issued, but it was, he was the first governor in the country to make that decision at that point in the early progress of the pandemic. And I think it was that moment when it really hit me the potential gravity of what the pandemic would mean. We knew right away that people who are going to be at home with kids, unexpectedly, people who were losing wages because, um, you know, events were being canceled. Joree N. 00:25:00 Flights were, were closing. Um, we're going to need extra help. We had no idea what that would really look like long-term, but, you know, I remember those very early days of late night board meetings and emergency phone calls and just scrambling as, as food bankers to figure out how we were going to stay operating and make sure people had what they needed and, and make sure we were part of the solution. So I feel like, you know, we've come a long way and we've come nowhere at all at the same time. Um, so, you know, I hope that we have more hopeful dates to look forward to. Sarah K. 00:25:41 Yeah, I think we all will remember where we were that that week, um, when things started to shut down and I think I will really never forget the sense of fear and anxiety about what would happen next. As you know, we all saw the empty grocery store shelves and, um, our daily lives completely interrupted by, um, the pandemic and you know, how this would, uh, end up perpetuating disparities within our, within our society. So, I mean, it's, it's almost been two years since we began feeling the effects of COVID-19 in Ohio. And although we are in a much better spot than we were, and in March of 2020, it's also worrisome that we really don't know when this pandemic well and, or become endemic. And so, you know, we're really monitoring the federal public health emergency and seeing, you know, when that will end and when different COVID flexibilities will, will end and how those will affect the Ohioans that we serve and represent. I think it's really important to acknowledge and mourn the more than 35,000 Ohioans who have died from this disease. And, you know, we really hope that we can all reach back into our stores of goodwill and altruism and just be there for one another in the months ahead, as we, you know, continue to adapt to this ever changing pandemic Sarah K. 00:27:49 With the public health emergency and the possibility that it will end maybe three months from now, maybe six months to maybe nine months to a year who knows. Um, we really wanted to remind everyone to file your taxes. Folks who are receiving the child tax credit or the earned income tax credit will receive the second portion of that credit during tax time. Um, but you need to file. So we'll provide some more information down in the show notes, and then also keep on updating your info for Medicaid, SNAP and the other public benefits that you are enrolled in, or that you're helping folks enroll in. Um, that will be really vital. There are different changes to these programs as a public health emergency ends, um, to ensure that they stay on the bubble, that the public benefits that they're they're eligible for. And then of course continue to follow us for more updates. Sarah K. 00:29:02 So to close out, um, we wanted to give a shout out to the Cincinnati Bengals for their near victory in the super bowl. They are amazing supporters of the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati. And of course are led by the quarterback, Joe Burrow, who dedicated his, his Heisman trophy speech a couple years ago by saying, “I'm up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens county who go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school, you can be up here too.” Joe has continuously inspired a lot of giving in support of the Southeast Ohio food banks and their pantries, and really all of the food banks across the state. I think all Ohioans can be really proud of the work that he has done on and off the field. And so he just wanted to, um, pay tribute to that. So, you know, this was lucky episode 13 on 2-22-2022. So if that can't send us good luck for whatever comes next, I don't know what will. Thank you all for listening and we will talk to you soon.

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