From Feeding America:
After three long years of work and many bumps along the way, the farm bill was finally completed. While we were disappointed that the final bill included cuts to SNAP, it is a testament to the tireless work of our network that the cuts were minimized and that the final bill included a significant investment in TEFAP. Some of the key provisions include:
- $205 million in new investments in TEFAP over the next 10 years, with $50 million for Federal Fiscal Year 2015.
- A new dairy donation program that results in Federal purchases of dairy products for food banks and other emergency food providers if dairy margins fall below a certain rate.
- The SNAP “heat and eat” cut in the bill was expected to reduce benefits by up to $8.6 billion among 850,000 affected households in 16 states. Most states took steps to avoid those cuts, minimizing the impact.
- The Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Grant Program was established to fund projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase.
- SNAP Employment & Training Pilot Projects were created to test methods to enhance the employability of SNAP recipients, increase the earnings of SNAP work registrants, and to help people transition from the program.
- Several changes that limit the way entities can conduct SNAP outreach, including prohibition on working with foreign consulates, and use of federal dollars for TV, radio and billboard ads; and, prohibiting outreach workers from being paid per application or involved in “efforts to persuade” someone to apply.
- CSFP funding was increased by $2.8 million to expand the program into the 7 states that have USDA approved plans (CT, FL, HI, ID, MD,MA, RI).
- TEFAP Storage and Distribution was funded at $49.4 million. While we did not see the increase we have been advocating for, preventing cuts in this fiscal and legislative environment is an accomplishment.
- In Federal Fiscal Year 2014, we helped secure $253 million in Section 32 “bonus” commodity purchases for TEFAP. We worked with commodity groups and Members of Congress to identify bonus opportunities and to encourage USDA to use all available funding and authority to maximize TEFAP commodities. In the House of Representatives.
- So far in Federal Fiscal Year 2015, we have secured $68.5 million in bonus TEFAP bonus commodities.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization:
In preparation for the reauthorization of child nutrition programs in 2015, we worked closely with the network in 2014 to develop our priorities, including a network survey, meetings and phone calls.
- We hosted a series of briefings in DC attended by hundreds of partner organizations.
- To socialize our CNR priorities we hosted or participated in a number of hill policy briefings and conducted dozens of lobby visits on CNR.
- Developed resources for the network to lay the groundwork for effective engagement with members of Congress in their home districts and in DC.
In 2014, we made significant progress advancing legislation to expand and strengthen the food donation tax deduction and built support from a broad, cross-section of groups across the food industry. We head into 2015 with a strong foundation of bipartisan support on which to build.
- The food donation expansion legislation was included in two legislative packages for charities that passed the House of Representatives with significant bipartisan support, as well as a potential end of year tax agreement that fell apart due to a presidential veto threat.
Thank you again for your great work in 2014! As we enter into 2015, network advocacy will continue to be critical. We will be working to: ensure a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization that invests in and strengthens kids programs, particularly summer; expand and make permanent the food donation tax deduction; increase funding for TEFAP storage and distribution; protect Federal nutrition programs from harmful cuts and to continue to build network advocacy capacity. Fortunately, because of your efforts in 2014, we start with a very strong foundation to advance these goals!