Information on National Legislation Affecting Ohio's Most Vulnerable Population

National Commodity Supplemental Food Program Association

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides food to low-income seniors (93% of participants), women, infants and children, who suffer from hunger.

CSFP needs $203 million to provide monthly service to 621,347 seniors, women and children in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 ITO’s currently offering the program. This level of funding will also finally initiate service to the most vulnerable seniors in 6 additional states that have approved plans with USDA. They are Arkansas – 5,000 (waiting since 2003); Delaware – 2,500 (waiting since 2004); Georgia – 10,000 (approved in 2009); New Jersey- 5,000 (waiting since 2004); Oklahoma- 5,000 (waiting since 2003); and Utah – 10,000 (waiting since 2004).

We support the increased funding provided to other food and nutrition programs to meet the increased demand in their respective populations. We respectfully request similar consideration to the seniors who desperately need the food and nutrition services provided by CSFP. As the plans for the delivery networks have been in place in some states for six years, these services can make an immediate impact. Read more.

USDA Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Recommendations

The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks recognizes that hunger is merely a symptom of poverty. OASHF has lead research, outreach and education initiatives beyond the scope of traditional food programs. OASHF is the lead agency implementing the Ohio Food Stamp Outreach Plan in partnership with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and supported by USDA Food and Nutrition Service. In addition, OASHF leads the Ohio Benefit Bank, a public-private partnership that simplifies the application process for work support programs such as Food Stamps, child nutrition programs, health care and tax credits.

Foodbanks have expanded our services well beyond what we had envisioned just a few short years ago. USDA reports the number of children served free and reduced price lunch has increased every year for the past 10 years. In fact, nearly half of those we feed are children. To respond to the growing childhood hunger problem our Foodbanks began and are operating over one hundred Kids’ Cafes and Back Pack programs geared toward childrens nutritional and developmental needs. Back Pack programs provide kid friendly take home groceries to make sure they have something to eat over the weekend during school breaks.  Kids Café programs are operated at Boys and Girls Clubs, in churches and community centers by volunteers who offer educational and recreational activities along with an evening meal and after school snack. Many of our Foodbanks and agencies operate mobile food pantries that reach needy citizens who have no transportation. Currently more than 100 schools, churches, cities (community centers) and non-profits are on a waiting list to begin these programs.

Nearly 90% of low-income children in Ohio who receive free or reduced price school breakfast and lunch know that when summer vacation arrives so does hunger.  Last year saw unprecedented demand and this year brought another record breaker as more families were forced to visit soup kitchens in order to feed their children this summer.

We believe the upcoming reauthorization of the child nutrition programs and WIC should provide the opportunity to improve access, meal quality and nutrition in the school breakfast and lunch, summer nutrition, afterschool and child and adult care food programs, and WIC. These programs are profoundly important to millions of low-income children and the communities struggling to combat childhood hunger and improve children’s health in Ohio and across the Midwest.

Far too many Ohioans lack the resources to consistently and adequately feed their families. Indeed, the most recent Census Bureau figures documents that nearly 1.5 million Ohioans were living in poverty, up from about 1.2 million in 1999. At 13.3% of state’s population, this was the largest proportion to be considered poor since the 1960’s War on Poverty. The poverty level alone does not illustrate the full extent to which Ohioans are experiencing economic hardship. In 2006, the Census Bureau’s poverty threshold for the U.S. was $20,444 for a 2-adult, 2-child family. However, self-sufficiency measures produce income thresholds from 200% to 250% of the federal poverty level. In 2007, 30.6% of Ohioans—3.4 million people—had incomes below 200% of poverty.

The majority of Ohio families in poverty are employed. Among married couples in poverty, two-thirds held a job, while 62% of poor, single, female-headed families and 46% of poor individuals were employed. Many working Ohioans, however, cannot rise above poverty because they are in low-wage jobs. In 2007, 1.1 million Ohioans over the age of 18, a quarter of the state’s labor force, earned less than $10 an hour.

It is absolutely essential that the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act improve child nutrition programs which provide a consistent source of adequate nutrition for low-income Ohio families.

A strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is an investment in our children and in our state and nation. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of school meal programs on indicators such as child health status, school performance, and behavioral problems. Infants enrolled in the WIC program benefit in terms of weight, length and caregiver-perceived health. Studies indicate that federally reimbursable meals served in childcare are of better nutritional quality than those brought from home, and that the summer food programs provide an anchor for many summer enrichment programs which help maintain academic performance throughout the summer months. Together, the child nutrition programs provide a wide range of health and developmental benefits and comprise an essential safety-net for low-income families.

Despite documented benefits, these programs require updating and improvement. The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks has identified several recurrent themes among their list of policy and regulatory recommendations. Those themes include:

  • Expanding access to nutrition programs through pilot programs
  • Increasing reimbursement rates to reflect the rising costs of quality nutrition
  • Creating more categorical eligibility
  • Reducing administrative burdens

Read the enitre testimony as provided but Lisa Hamler-Fugitt

Read the Regional Foodbank Child Nutrition Survey

Click here to read more about the Ohio Benefit Bank