On Friday, September 24, we visited the Washington DC office of Feeding America. There we spoke with George Braley, Senior VP of Government Relations, and Lindsey Baker, Child Hunger Corps Coordinator.
- Difficult application processes
- Long waiting times due to states being overburdened with applications
- Limited trust by applicants in government workers or processes
- Applicants unaware that they (or some household members) qualify for benefits
- Sense that the benefit is too low to make the application process worth it
- Unwillingness of some people, particularly seniors, to take what they see as “welfare”
- Mistaken belief that if they take SNAP it will leave less for others
Lindsey Baker told us about another area in which Feeding America food banks are increasing their efforts -- improving child nutrition. What do children from hungry households do for dinner, for weekends, for school vacations and summers, when they don’t have access to school lunch and school breakfast?
Feeding America's Child Hunger Corps is working on increasing the availability and nutritional content of food for kids after school hours. Through a partnership with ConAgra Foods, Child Hunger Corps members will work with specific food banks to identify gaps and either expand existing programs or establish new programs to fill those gaps.
One example of a program that might benefit from expansion is the kids backpack program (giving hungry kids single servings of nutritious food to take home on the weekends). The child nutrition bill (if it passes) would provide some federal funding for backpack food, but currently food must be bought by private donors or through partnerships with corporations.
Finally, as we’ve found to be true of the other national organizations we’ve contacted, Feeding America increases its influence on governmental organizations by actively participating in coalitions with other hunger relief agencies (e.g., the Congressional Hunger Center). Feeding America actively encourages its 1,000,000 volunteers and 80,000 Hunger Action Center members nationwide to convince friends, foundations, corporations, legislators, and government agencies to end the disgrace of hunger in America. YOU can be an advocate, too.