Federal legislation to watch

Congress is wrapping up its April Recess and then it’s back to work on Capitol Hill. There are multiple pieces of legislation being considered this year that could affect Coloradans experiencing hunger. To aid you, we’ve provided a summary of legislation at the federal level that we want you to know about:

H.R.610 No Hungry Kids Act

  • Would repeal established nutrition standards for school lunch and breakfast programs.
  • Hunger Free Colorado opposes.
  • Studies show that proper nutrition is fundamental for ensuring that our children have the fuel they need to be successful in the classroom. Without nutrition standards, some school districts make try to cut costs at the expense of our children’s health and academic achievement.

H.R.952 Food Donation Act of 2017

  • Would expand provisions of the existing Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
  • Hunger Free Colorado opposes.
  • On its surface, this bill seems positive, but we fear it is harmful to low-income Coloradans. This act allows for tax credits for food donations, thereby offering a financial incentive for businesses to donate. However, the act does not specify what foods are acceptable. The result is that healthful items like fresh produce would receive the same tax credit as candy and soda. We believe that there should be tax credits for donated foods, but that credits should prioritize healthful foods, and certain foods should not be eligible for tax deductions. We want to see legislation that creates tax incentives for healthful foods only.

H.R.1078 Military Hunger Prevention Act

  • Would exclude armed forces housing allowances from being considered as income, assets, or resources in determining eligibility for nutrition assistance.
  • Hunger Free Colorado supports.
  • This act would allow more military families to be eligible for vital programs like food stamps, and at higher benefit amounts. We feel it is only fair that families that serve our country receive the vital assistance they need to build a strong and resilient foundation.

H.R. 1276 Closing the Meal Gap of 2017

  • Would increase the minimum food stamp benefit and change the benefit calculation formula, meaning families would receive higher benefit totals.
  • Hunger Free Colorado supports.
  • For many low-income Coloradans, the current average benefit of $1.38 per meal is too low to make ends meet. We find it reprehensible that so many of our seniors are only eligible of a benefit of $16 per month. Meager benefits mean that it is difficult for all Coloradans to maximize their human potential to weather life’s storms.

Farm Bill Reauthorization

  • The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30th, 2018.  There are about 550 days to put together the 2018 Farm Bill.
  • Hunger Free Colorado wants nutrition assistance programs like food stamps to be protected and strengthened.
  • Congress must protect food stamps from harmful policy proposals to alter its structure or cut its funding. These cuts may be direct as decreased funding, or may come in the form of “block grants” (also called ‘opportunity grants’, or ‘state flexibility funds’). Instead, Congress should strengthen food stamps because of its proven efficacy in addressing hunger.  This means basing benefit allotments on the low-cost food plan or ameliorating the harsh time limits on benefits for certain jobless adults who are willing to work, but are unable to find sufficient employment.

We’ll keep you updated as legislation progress, but we encourage you to reach out to your Representatives to tell them where you stand on hunger issues and the preceding legislation. Call their offices and say that supporting and strengthening federal nutrition programs like food stamps is important to you, and you hope they will support these evidence-based programs that maximize human potential.

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