States Move Ahead With Food Stamp Cuts

food stamps

Others enacted unprecedented cuts in unemployment insurance, as Stateline previously reported. Against that backdrop, supporters of the cuts see the work requirement as a prime opportunity to trim the rolls. Those possibly affected by ending the waivers comprise less than 5 percent of Americans collecting food stamps. Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty Kansas Dept. of Children and Families Sec. Phyllis Gilmore Republicans see the improving economy as a sign enrollment should be dropping anyway, with cuts to benefits a good way to push some people back into the labor market. Kansas made its case clear, calling the policy “an effort to encourage employment over welfare dependency.” “Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty,” Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said in a statement announcing the move. Those who support ending the waivers also promise robust job placement and training programs to help those affected meet work requirements, which could allow them to keep their benefits. Wisconsin, for example, is spending an additional $33 million on those efforts as its waiver expires. Are cuts premature? Others say the cuts are premature in the face of a weak job market 11 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates measurably higher than the national 7.3 percent jobless rate. The waivers are designed to end once employment improves. Ending them sooner could strip flexibility to deal with lingering joblessness, which is expected to remain above normal for years. “It’s hard to imagine any state would want to lose the flexibility to use waivers to tailor the policy to meet local conditions,” said Dottie Rosenbaum, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. Rosenbaum added that the work-requirement policy can have “harsh effects on very poor individuals.” Underlying the debate is the question of whether policies enacted during the recession have increased enrollment levels beyond actual need.

The more fast-food eateries on your block, the less obese you’re likely to be? (Video)

The more fast-food eateries on your block, the less obese you're likely to be--if you're a female teenager?

The more banks in the neighborhood, the less likely the teenager was to be obese The study, based on body mass index (BMI) data of 94,348 high school students in New York City public schools, found that the more banks in a student’s neighborhood, the less likely the student was to be obese. “We used banks to measure the influence of retail investment because we could reasonably assume that they don’t cause adolescent obesity, but are related to investment patterns,” Bader says in the news release. “When we found that having more banks in a neighborhood predicted a lower likelihood of obesity, we were reasonably confident that this association showed the beneficial influence of neighborhood retail investment.” A Surprising Discovery But before they examined their sample for the relationship between banks and adolescent obesity, Bader and his colleagues analyzed their data to see if the density of fast food outlets had an impact on adolescent obesity. They discovered something so unexpected, even they found it surprisingthe same inverse relationship they found between banks and adolescent obesity existed between fast food outlets and adolescent obesity. In other words, the students with more fast food outlets in their neighborhoods were less likely to be obese. However, the results differed for boys and girls. A boy who had three fewer fast-food outlets in his neighborhood than an otherwise comparable boy was 12 percent more likely to be obese. For girls, this changed to a 9 percent higher chance of being obese than an otherwise similar girl, but instead of three fewer fast food outlets in the girl’s neighborhood, it was three fewer pizza places. Retail Environment = Complex Ecosystem “The location of fast food restaurants and banks were correlated, because they respond to similar economic conditions,” Bader said. “A neighborhood’s retail environment is a complex ecosystem, and we think that these findings show that is important to consider how the retail ecosystem might influence health.” Because of this complexity, Bader and his colleagues could not pinpoint exactly what factors created the more banks and fast food outlets/fewer obese teens relationship, but offered some hypotheses. “A larger retail presence might provide what [the late urban activist] Jane Jacobs termed ‘eyes on the street’ to prevent crime, a political lobby to support neighborhood services, and, of course, employment for local residents,” Bader says in the news release. The density of parks encouraging physical activities and the number of supermarkets may be a factor Other factors that were not accounted for in the study that could have impacted the students’ BMI data include the density of parks and other spaces that encourage physical activity in students’ neighborhoods or the number of supermarkets, which usually offer more healthful food options than do fast food outlets. “We will continue to investigate the complexity of the urban economic ecosystem, including how the density and diversity of food options in neighborhoods might influence obesity outcomes,” Bader says in the news release. “This paper provides a preliminary finding that we hope will encourage more research investigating how economic development might influence health.” You also may want to take a look at the abstract of the study, ” Lets Have Lunch!

Sell-By Labels Send Edible U.S. Food to the Dump (Op-Ed)

Sell-By Labels Send Edible U.S. Food to the Dump (Op-Ed)

Those “best-by,” “sell-by,” and “use-by” dates that you see on food have nothing to do with food safety. They’re set by manufacturers, without federal oversight, and most often relate to what manufacturers feel is “peak” quality. The date label on food does not tell you Confusion over dates, according to a by the Food Marketing Institute, leads 9 out of 10 Americans to needlessly throw away food. For the average family of four, this could translate to several hundred dollars’ worth of food being thrown away every year and in all likelihood, more money spent purchasing the same food again simply because of a misleading date stamp. A senseless waste, when most Americans are keeping a close eye on household budgets, and when one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food. You might think the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency responsible for food safety, would be overseeing food-expiration dates. It does not. The FDA, in its own words, leaves date except for infant formula, to “the discretion of the manufacturer.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees meat, poultry and some egg products, also says date labels are voluntary. It does call for if a manufacturer chooses to use one, such as “packing” date, sell-by date or use-before date.