Local/National News

Local food banks report an increase in people seeking assistance, but at the same time there are fewer food items being donated. What local stories have you been following, and what do you think we should be paying attention to?

Food Banks/Food Assistance Northwest Harvest

America's Second Harvest: A national network of food banks, that includes partnerships with grocery chains, corporations and agribusiness.
Nutrition Programs (School lunch programs, WIC, etc.) FOOD PRICES AFFECTING NUTRITION PROGRAMS
By Lindsey Dodenhof

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program created in 1946 that operates in public and private schools, as well as residential childcare institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. For a family of four to receive free lunches the income must be below $27,560. For reduced lunches, it must be below $39,200. School lunch programs are being affected by the price of food. They are having a problem providing cheap, but healthy meals. Because the government subsidizes lunches, schools are expected to follow the guidelines for healthy eating by providing lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The two foods that are hit the hardest are milk and meat, two universal offerings in school lunchrooms. It also costs more to more to get fruits and vegetables because they are not really processed, which makes it harder to spread around the costs. It costs more for milk and meat because they come from farm animals that mostly eat corn, which is why the food prices are rising. They demand for corn-based ethanol is the problem. The government reimburses schools $2.57 for each meal, but for many schools, the cost for a school lunch is well over $3.00. The increase in food costs is making more families turn to the school lunch programs; the government expects an increase of about 1.5%. Because of this, most schools in Washington plan to charge more for the full-price lunches as well as cutting staff as a way to make ends meet.
The WIC program was created in 1974 to help low-income women and children up to the age of five. It provides vouchers for specific food such as milk, cheese, juice, cereal, etc. Eligibility for this program is $38,200 for a family for four. WIC programs are also being affected by the rising costs of food. The cost of food is rising, which makes it harder to get more food with the money provided to families. The prices for milk and cheese, which account for 40% of WIC food costs, have soared. Because of this, Congress has agreed to boost the funding for the WIC program. Bush has proposed to spend $5.4 billion for the program next year. Congress wants to spend at least another $217 million more for the WIC program. The reason for this is that only $5.6 billion would still leave out 235,000 recipients.
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