Mondays: 10 am – 4 pm (transactions must be completed by 3:45 pm)
Tuesdays thru Fridays: 9 am – 4 pm (transactions must be completed by 3:45 pm)
Closures due to weather will be listed on www.wzzm13.com by 7:15 am, under Feeding America West Michigan
Congress has been arm wrestling over a new Farm Bill for more than two years, and last Thursday, the President signed it into law on Michigan State’s campus.
The Farm Bill is a trillion-dollar piece of legislation that covers everything from catfish to conservation. But what does it mean for hunger?
SNAP loses $8.6 billion over 10 years
In addition to agriculture policy, the Farm Bill determines how much money the federal government puts into anti-hunger programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). SNAP is the largest anti-hunger program in the country, providing 20 times more food benefits than the entire charitable food network each year.
The 2014 Farm Bill cuts SNAP funding by $8.6 billion over the next 10 years by changing the “Heat and Eat” requirements in states like Michigan. To qualify for additional SNAP benefits, recipients will now have to receive a minimum of $20 in utility assistance each year.
This comes on the heels of another reduction in benefits that affected all SNAP recipients in November. Taken together, these cuts total nearly $20 billion over the next 10 years.
Food charities see boost in funding
At the same time, the Farm Bill increases funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program by $205 million. TEFAP sends commodity foods to organizations like ours that serve regions with high need. We call this “USDA” product at the Food Bank.
In 2013, TEFAP supplied 12.9% of all the food Feeding America West Michigan distributed. An increase in TEFAP funding could help charities meet the increased demand they are already seeing as a result of recent SNAP cuts, but $205 million can’t begin to fill a $20 billion gap.
What Else is New?
The Farm Bill also contains provisions to increase employment opportunities for SNAP recipients, fight food stamp trafficking, and pilot healthy food access programs similar to Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks initiative, which helps SNAP recipients stretch their budgets at farmers’ markets. Learn more about the Farm Bill’s nutrition changes.
If you’d like to explore the farm-related parts of the Farm Bill, take a look at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s series “2014 Farm Bill Drilldown” in which they look at some of the law’s lesser-known provisions.
Resources for Clients
The Center for Civil Justice offers a variety of brochures, applications, and information for clients seeking food assistance.
Feeding America West Michigan’s Find Food page can help clients connect to agencies in their neighborhood.
Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank is beginning the initial phase of restructuring the shopping area and process. The decision to remodel our shopping area is part of an ongoing effort to improve our agencies shopping experience as well as increasing food safety and personal safety measures in our warehouse.
As of January 25 we are making the following changes:
- The SOSL room will be closed indefinitely.
- The former SOSL space will be remodeled as a waiting room for agency representatives while awaiting their turn to shop. The waiting room is slated to open Monday, February 3rd.
- In order to better accommodate the large number of agencies that use the shopping area, we will permit only 2 adult shoppers per agency.
- Time-limited shopping slots will be available at peak times for agencies that choose to augment their on-line orders by shopping in the warehouse. The peak times are Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM.
For safety and insurance reasons, children may not be in the shopping area. Children accompanying an agency representative to the warehouse may stay in the waiting room, if they are chaperoned by an able-bodied adult. If you are unable to come with a chaperone for the children, we ask that you pick up your scheduled order between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
Group homes will need to limit the number of residents who accompany staff to the warehouse; a ratio of one staff to one resident is required.
If you have a yellow card used to access the former SOSL room, that card will still be valid for general shopping and ordering purposes.
Please look for new signage regarding the changes in the warehouse. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we make these changes.
Ken Estelle, CEO
Great for kids’ programs and nutritious, easy snacks for all! We have sliced apples in the shopping cooler this week – available while supplies last.