The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

AR Hunger Relief Alliance Message Supporting the Summer Meals Act & WIC

Posted on September 15, 2014 at 04:42 PM

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a great organization that engages in a wide variety of constructive activities regarding hunger and nutrition. We are forwarding a message from them urging support for the Summer Meals Act, which has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Please contact your Members of Congress in support of this bill, as well as WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and other vital nutrition programs.

Rachel Townsend of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance gave a great presentation at our June 12-13, 2014 Delta Caucus conference at the Clinton Library and we have frequently collaborated with them over the years.

The hunger and nutrition issues will be very important as always for our Delta Caucus fall conference on Oct. 30-31, 2014 at Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, because of the high food insecurity, obesity, diabetes, heart-related maladies and other nutrition-related health issues.


1. Registration for Oct. 30-31, 2014 Delta Caucus fall conference in Helena-West Helena AR

2. Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance on the Summer Meals Act

3. Information on the WIC program

For more information on the schedule, speakers, group hotel of the Oct. 30-31, 2014 Delta conference in Helena-West Helena, please see the “Caucus Articles” link and scroll to the articles about the Helena Delta Caucus conference.


You register by mailing in the registration fee checks by the Oct. 15 early registration fee deadline.

Registration fees are $75 for those who have paid their annual membership dues or those who are part of a group of five or more who receive a group discount.

Registration fees are $100 for individuals who have not paid their annual membership dues.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601


The Summer Meals Act of 2014

The Summer Meals Act of 2014, S. 2527 H.R. 5012, introduced by a bipartisan group in Congress, would strengthen, protect and expand access to the Summer Nutrition Programs that help reduce childhood hunger and combat childhood obesity experienced by low-income children in the summer months. The bill will support educational and enrichment programs that keep children learning, engaged, and safe when school is not in session.

In July, 2013, nearly three million had summer lunches on an average today, reaching only one in seven of the low-income children who rely on school lunch during the school year.

What are the Summer Nutrition Programs?

The Summer Nutrition Programs (the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program) provide federal funding to serve nutritious meals and snacks during summer break when low-income children lose access to free and reduced-price school meals.

The meals are served at sites such as summer programs, summer school, parks and recreation centers, Ys, and Boys and Girls Clubs that are located in a low- income area or that serve primarily low-income children. The vast majority of sites offer learning, enrichment, and/or recreational activities in addition to nutritious meals.

What does the bill propose?

Improve the area eligibility test to allow communities to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site qualifies if 50 percent or more of children in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals as defined by school or census data. This threshold keeps many communities with significant numbers of low-income children, but not a high enough concentration of poverty, from participating.

In addition, the 50 percent test is inconsistent with federally funded summer programs, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and Title I, which require at least 40 percent. These important education programs should all be able to provide summer meals.

Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round through the Sum- mer Food Service Program. Currently, sponsors must apply to and operate both the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in order to feed children—often the same children—after school and during the summer. This creates duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.

Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, and these grants will increase low-income children’s access to summer meals in rural and other under-served areas.

Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day, but most sites are only able to serve a maximum of two meals. This leaves children without enough nutrition to get through the day or forces sites to use program dollars for food.

How Will the Summer Meals Act Benefit My Community?

Combat childhood hunger and obesity. The Summer Nutrition Programs replace the breakfasts, lunches, after school meals, and snacks that children receive during the school day, giving low-income children access to the healthy meals their bodies need.

Keep children safe, learning, and out of trouble. The meals help draw children into educational, enrichment, and recreational activities which are important tools for combating summer learning loss, reducing juvenile crime and teen pregnancy, and supporting working parents.

Provide states federal child nutrition funding that will create jobs and generate economic activity. The Summer Nutrition Programs bring federal dollars into local communities that must be used to support providing meals, such as to purchase food, pay salaries and cover transportation costs.

About WIC by Monica Davidson—from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

Date: 04.09.2014 | By: Nancy Conley | Blog

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a federal program, funded by a grant given to WIC State Agencies. This allows for only a certain amount of funding each year, as opposed to SNAP benefits where Congress sets aside enough funds for all eligible individuals to participate (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials).

WIC is based upon research showing that pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as infants and young children benefit from better and more consistent nutrition.

“WIC is a lifesaver when it comes to helping you get healthy things for your children in the first few years of life, and the fact that WIC will also help pregnant women [is great]. It was a great thing to have when Jasmine was little,” said former WIC mom, Kali.

WIC has led to lower health care costs by decreasing the number of preterm births and low birth-weight infants, which results in fewer illnesses and health issues.

Good prenatal and early childhood nutrition has been shown to increase vocabulary scores and significantly improve memory (USDA).

By investing in these children’s early nutrition, we are investing in our nation’s future. Because of the importance of early nutrition, the income threshold for WIC benefits is higher than that for SNAP (a maximum of 185% of the federal poverty income guideline, versus 100% for SNAP), making more women with slightly higher incomes eligible for WIC benefits.

WIC provides parents with children under the age of 5 access to items necessary for a well-rounded, balanced diet, for at least part of the month. In contrast to the generality of SNAP benefits, WIC allows families to purchase only specific foods, such as peanut butter, milk, and whole grain bread. Like many assistance programs, however, stretching the supply to last the entire month is largely impossible, but the benefits can help ease a financial situation that could otherwise prove terribly difficult.

Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store (WIC parents version available) helps parents better understand what they can get with their WIC benefits, as well as how to make the items they get last longer and provide healthier meal choices. Both events provide parents with the knowledge to be shopping savvy and the opportunity to learn new recipes, either by practicing them in class (Cooking Matters) or by providing copies of relevant recipes (Cooking Matters at the Store).

WIC parents can learn about ways to prepare vegetables, fruits, and beans (those dried beans can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated), and Cooking Matters at the Store gives parents the opportunity to learn not only how to shop smarter, but gives them a chance to practice these skills with a professional on hand to ask questions.

WIC offices also provide a support network to encourage mothers to breastfeed, which is recognized as the “optimal source of nutrition for infants.” (USDA) WIC offices provide enhanced nutritional packages to mothers who breastfeed, as well as one-to-one peer support and breast pumps or other aids needed to facilitate breastfeeding. Data has shown that breastfeeding participation by WIC recipients has increased .08% between 2011 and 2012 (USDA).

Mothers who choose to formula feed or are unable to breastfeed are provided with formula through WIC in place of the enhanced benefits available to breastfeeding mothers. This is beneficial to families in that formula feeding can prove costly— averaging $70 a month for the average 6 month old (Bonyata).

“Since I am one of those women that does not produce breast milk, you can imagine how it eased things financially the first year. Formula is a very expensive necessity that first year. I am not sure where I would have found the money to buy it if I had to. Once she turned a year old, she had to have soy milk, which again is expensive. WIC has helped to insure that we have the healthy basics that she needs,” said Michelle of Bryant, AR.

More comments about WIC from parents currently or formerly on the program:

“ WIC has been a very helpful addition to our grocery budget. Feeding your family healthy foods is expensive and I’m very grateful for the help. I especially love the fact that they gave out vouchers for the farmer’s market this summer! What a great way to help mamas buy local and support our farmers at the same time!” –Amy, Little Rock, AR

“For me, WIC was a savior for my breastfeeding relationship. Due to having qualified lactation consultants to help me figure out that Jilly had an extreme overbite and how to manage nursing with it, I was able to nurse her past her 2nd birthday.” –Lena, Benton, AR


Bonyata, Kelly. “Financial Costs of Not Breastfeeding.” KellyMom. N.p., 30 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 July 2014.

SNAP & WIC Side-by-Side Comparison. Rep. Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, June 2014. Web. June 2014. .

USA. United States Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Service. WIC — The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Apr. 2014. Web. June 2014.

WIC Breastfeeding Data Local Agency Report. Rep. N.p.: USDA FNS Supplemental Food Programs Division, 2012. Print.