Government Stimulus Boosts Food Stamp Benefits
Anyone following the soaring rate of Food Stamp use in this country over the last year wasn’t surprised to learn that the U.S. was in a recession. As of January 2009, more than 30 million Americans were receiving Food Stamps (now known as SNAP -- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)—near record numbers not seen since post-Katrina in 2005.
In Michigan, one in eight residents receives Food Stamps, a doubling of the caseload since 2000. In Arizona, which ranks third in the country in the number of jobs lost since 2007, requests for Food Stamps is rising at twice the national rate.
With so many Americans out of work and seeking food assistance, the Obama administration allocated $20 billion for increased SNAP spending as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, popularly known as the stimulus plan. Beginning in April, the value of the Thrifty Food Plan will increase an initial 13.6 percent (the increase phases out over time.) Here’s how the increase in benefits will affect individuals and families:
With $1.73 generated throughout the economy for every dollar spent on SNAP, boosting Food Stamp benefits was deemed a smart financial move by economists. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Economy.Com, observed, “The most effective proposals included in the House stimulus plan are extending unemployment insurance benefits, expanding the Food Stamp program, and increasing aid to state and local governments.” (The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, January 21, 2009) "If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it's very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need - groceries, to pay the telephone bill, to pay the electric bill," Zandi said..
April is a Month of Service with Sodexo Servathon
When Sodexo launched its first Servathon in 1996 as part of the company’s STOP Hunger initiative, America was enjoying a period of relative economic vitality. Unemployment was 5.4%, the housing market was booming, and, while more than 10 million Americans were deemed “food insecure”, the issue was low on most people’s radar screens.1
That first year, thousands of Sodexo employees nationwide devoted a single day to community service, volunteering at food banks, shelters, and other hunger-relief organizations.
Fast forward to 2009 and hunger—in the U.S. and around the world—is an all too familiar concern for close to a billion at risk people. And the Sodexo Servathon has never been more relevant or vital. Now in its 13th year, the Servathon has expanded far beyond its one-day length and domestic focus. The entire month of April is devoted to Servathon at Sodexo accounts worldwide. (Watch our video on Sodexo USA’s Servathon efforts)
Last year, more than 35,000 employees joined forces to donate more than 198,000 pounds of food to hunger relief organizations and serve 50,000 meals to hungry men, women and children. In 2009, employees from Sydney to Bucharest to Toronto will partner with NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) to serve food, raise funds, and participate in a wide variety of other hunger-relief activities.
With more than 36 million people now at risk for hunger in the United States, food stamp rolls at record numbers, and food banks struggling to keep up with demand, Sodexo USA employees are gearing up for an eventful Servathon month. In addition to the critical can drives, food donations, and meal preparation activities, employees will go the extra mile—in some cases literally—to raise money and awareness.
In Simsbury, CT, T.J. Alibrio, District Manager for Sodexo’s Senior Services division, is putting the final touches on a 2nd annual Walk Against Hunger to raise money for the Sodexo Foundation. This year, T.J.’s planning four walks for May 2 in East Hartford, CT, Utica, NY, Yonkers, NY, and Albany, NY. T.J. said he’s inviting Sodexo employees, family members, clients and the general public to participate in the walks. “Sodexo is a member of these communities, and when our community is in need, we do everything we can to help out.”
Fighting the Recession one Row at a Time
As the cold, hard ground softens and tender seedlings make their first tentative appearance, gardeners everywhere rejoice in the coming of spring. Americans have a long tradition of digging in the dirt, and a small backyard garden is a source of pride for millions of us. But with the economy in recession and the cost of food a daily concern, gardening is also a source of healthy and inexpensive food. According to the National Gardening Association, the number of homes growing vegetables will jump more than 40% this year compared with just two years ago. "As the economy goes down, food gardening goes up," says Bruce Butterfield, the group's research director. "We haven't seen this kind of spike in 30 years."2
For some gardeners, planting a garden is a way to fight hunger no matter what the state of the economy. Last year more than 25,000 gardeners donated over 1.4 million pounds of food to feed the hungry as part of the Plant A Row (PAR) for the Hungry campaign.
PAR was launched nationally in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association of America to encourage donations of excess food to local food banks. The campaign has grown exponentially thanks to the writers’ media savvy, food bank activism, and gardeners’ hard work and compassion.
Some gardeners plant a row for the hungry. And then there’s Michael Miller. Since 2004, he’s planted a 2,500 square foot fruit and vegetable garden and donated all the proceeds—2,500 pounds in 2008—to Food Gatherers, an Ann Arbor, MI food rescue program. Michael is District Manager for Sodexo School Services, in Saline, MI and was recognized by the Sodexo Foundation as a Hero of Everyday Life for his extraordinary commitment to hunger relief. Michael is already planning for his 2009 garden, which he hopes to expand to meet the growing demand in Michigan. “In some area school districts we’ve seen a 25% increase in the number of approved applications for free and reduced meals,” Michael noted. “Our state has been hit hard by the recession and anything I can do to help, I’ll do.”
2 USA Today, February 20, 2009
Sodexo Foundation Impact Report 2008
The Sodexo Foundation was established in 1999 with a mission to be a driving and creative force that contributes to a hunger-free nation. Since our founding we have provided $11 million in grants to organizations and initiatives that fight hunger and its root causes.
With the United States in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Foundation worked hard to maintain and even expand funding to grant recipients and our own initiatives. In 2008, thanks to the contributions of many individuals and companies, the Sodexo Foundation provided more than $1.85M in grants to 127 hunger-related organizations. Sodexo, Inc. continues to cover all administrative expenses of the Foundation, empowering us to utilize 100% of donated funds directly for grants to have the greatest impact on those in need.
As we prepare for a month of Servathon activities, a summer of Feeding Our Future, and a year of working with non-profit organizations to fight hunger and the conditions that contribut to it, we thank our donors, friends, and fellow Sodexo employees for their continuing support and commitment.
STOP Hunger eZine
Vol. 4 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - March 2009
March 2009 – Volume 4/Issue 1
In this issue:
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) have long struggled to overcome hurtful stereotypes. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians were caricatured as exotic foreigners, mysterious and untrustworthy. Today, they are presented as the “model minority,” thoroughly assimilated into American life, a monolithic group of high-achievers academically and professionally.
Like all caricatures, this new stereotype flies in the face of facts. While many APIAs have clearly excelled at work and school, “Thirteen percent of Asian Americans and 17 percent of Pacific Islanders live in poverty, compared to 12 percent of the general population.” Those statistics, cited by Neil Horikoshi, Executive Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF,) validate the Fund’s mission to ensure Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who live at or below the poverty level, or are otherwise of low socioeconomic status, have access to higher education and the financial resources to help them to succeed.
Founded in 2003, APIASF is the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted solely to providing scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander American students. APIASF works strategically with the Hispanic College Fund and the United Negro College Fund, long-time national scholarship organizations for Latinos and African Americans, respectively. All three scholarship funds are enthusiastically supported by the Sodexo Foundation, which recognizes that access to education is a path to addressing the root causes of poverty and hunger.
The Sodexo Foundation announced its support of the APIASF in 2005 with a three-year commitment of $150,000 to students whose families are at or below the poverty line. Scholarship recipients must be academically strong and preference is given to students who have participated in community service programs dealing with hunger and poverty in the United States. To assist low-income students by providing a sustainable and dependable scholarship stream, the Sodexo Foundation scholarships are multi-year, as long as the recipient maintains a GPA of 3.0 or better.
In 2008 the Sodexo Foundation extended its support for an additional three years and increased its annual contribution to $100,000, bringing Sodexo’s total grants to APIASF to $450,000.
“Sodexo Foundation’s scholarship funding, as well as Sodexo USA’s support through Board and Advisory Council involvement and event sponsorship, has helped our organization grow into the premier organization providing access to higher education for APIA students,” said Horikoshi. “As we work to better serve students, we are delighted to introduce our first mulit-year scholarship made possible by Sodexo.”
Profiles of Sodexo Foundation APIASF Scholars
Name: David Huynh
Being a first-generation American and the first in the family to attend college, I am truly part of a privileged generation. The attitude I have towards life and its opportunities would not be what it is today if it were not for my mother. In 1982, my mother immigrated to America, the land of opportunities, at the age of 17. She, however, never had the privilege of receiving a formal education like my brother and me. Along with her 11 younger siblings she made her home in California. Without the warm and loving care of a mother or guidance of a father, it was difficult to settle down, but being the most mature, she exemplified responsibility. She shared her love and care by sacrificing a formal education to raise all 11 of her siblings. Despite having to overcome struggles both physically (handicapped by polio disease) and financially, my mother still managed to raise two families: her siblings and my brother and me.
Name: Mashkura Chowdhury
My parents and I immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh because my parents believed that this was the land that would bring a bright future through hard work. My parents struggled to give my younger sisters and I opportunities and they knew that education was the key to the future…There was no doubt in my mind that I would go to college. I plan to attend Barnard College where I will major in Biology and pursue a career in medicine. I have participated in on-going research projects such as wetland research at Columbia University where I would collect data in swamps and rivers. During the summer, it was an amazing experience to canoe in the peaceful Hudson River and deploy traps to collect samples of fish to later analyze in the lab. These experiences created my interest for biology.