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Food Insecurity, Hunger Expected to Soar After Cuts to Extra SNAP Benefits

Food security advocates, policymakers, and others had been warning of the dire consequences to those most in need if Congress chose to halt the extra allotments of SNAP benefits. Still, the Republican-led House let the COVID-era supplemental payments wind down at the end of February.

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Those closest to the problem say the consequences are already evident in the days since the extra allotments ended. The issues of hunger and food insecurity are being pushed to the forefront of the nation's myriad challenges.
Those closest to the problem say the consequences are already evident in the days since the extra allotments ended. The issues of hunger and food insecurity are being pushed to the forefront of the nation's myriad challenges.

By Barrington M. Salmon
NNPA Newswire

Food security advocates, policymakers, and others had been warning of the dire consequences to those most in need if Congress chose to halt the extra allotments of SNAP benefits. Still, the Republican-led House let the COVID-era supplemental payments wind down at the end of February.

Those closest to the problem say the consequences are already evident in the days since the extra allotments ended. The issues of hunger and food insecurity are being pushed to the forefront of the nation’s myriad challenges. The abrupt benefit cuts are estimated to affect more than 30 million people in 35 states.

On the frontlines, activists fighting the twin scourges of hunger and homelessness, like Anne Miskey, Kymone T. Freeman and Daniel del Pielago, contend that this and other crises were avoidable. Still, Congress, other elected officials, and society at large lack the political will or the compassion to eliminate what is essentially a man-made problem.

“Yet, although the SNAP extra allotments, stimulus funds and other assistance from the federal government helped stave off hunger and homelessness during the COVID crisis,” Kymone T. Freeman said, “the politicians have inexplicably allowed a critical lifeline to expire.”

Freeman said politicians are more concerned about staying in office and catering to the donor class and the wealthy instead of focusing on and delivering programs, projects and policies to working and middle-class Americans, particularly African Americans.

“This sounds like more austerity to me. The fact that they are cutting anything now is obscene and immoral. All it means is more hardship for the poor,” said Freeman, a social justice activist, playwright, and co-founder of WEACT Radio in Washington, DC. “This will increase crime, poverty, distress and misery. The cuts are contributing to hunger. Thirty percent of the children in Washington, DC, live in poverty. A budget is a moral document, and this is where their morality lies.”

Miskey, executive director of Union Station Homeless Services in Los Angeles, California, agreed.

“Much of the inflation and high prices we’re seeing is because of corporate greed. We’re expecting homelessness to skyrocket,” Miskey said. “During COVID, we rented all these hotels and shelters. We managed pretty well during COVID as local, state, and federal money poured in. But with the funding money gone, we’re trying to figure things out. The cost of living, rent, and evictions are going up. The cost of living is driving people into homelessness. Things are going to get pretty bad because of the cost of living.”

Miskey contends that separating food insecurity from gentrification, low wages, displacement, and homelessness is impossible. “COVID-19 has laid bare the structural, institutional, economic, and racial inequities that separate African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans from their white counterparts,” she said. Marginalized communities have been hit particularly hard by many challenges, many not naturally occurring.

“Healthcare workers, people of color, and immigrants are making horrible wages,” Miskey said. “They cannot afford afterschool care for kids, don’t have money for affordable housing, and struggle to make ends meet. This is a war against the poor. They tell people that they did this to themselves. Millions of people have no opportunity or are intentionally excluded from opportunities. Racism is the #1 factor for excluding people.”

The SNAP emergency allotments were designed to alleviate food insecurity and stimulate the US economy throughout the COVID pandemic public health emergency. According to DC Hunger Solutions, the cuts to SNAP benefits will affect more than 90,000 people in the District of Columbia. On average, when this “hunger cliff” hits, each SNAP participant will lose over $90 a month, DC Hunger Solutions officials explained on the website.

“As a result, average SNAP benefits will fall to a meager $6 a person a day. The “hunger cliff” will hit all age groups and all parts of the District of Columbia. The steepest cliff will be for many older adults who only qualify for the minimum SNAP benefit — dropping from $281 a month to $30,” staff said.

The “hunger cliff” — a perfect storm of a striking reduction of benefits in the face of high inflation and climbing grocery costs — will exacerbate food insecurity and hardship in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. The District will lose more than $14 million in benefits monthly. Emergency food providers can’t fill this gap. Even before the cuts, food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens have reported high demand for assistance, DC Hunger Solutions said.

All over America, Miskey said, people are vulnerable, have health problems, are aging, have been homeless for a long time, including seniors.

“It doesn’t take much: a single income, losing a spouse, an increase in the cost of housing. People are precariously housed. People have to put themselves in danger sometimes,” said Miskey. “People are stealing to survive. People need help, but needing help is seen as something weak or bad. Of course, the Republican Party sells the lottery mentality. People figure they’re going to be up there one day and dream that they’re going to get there.”

Daniel del Pielago agrees with Miskey that Republicans and others who support their ideas and agenda are committed to former President Donald Trump’s promise to dismantle the administrative state.

Del Pielago, organizing director of Empower DC, said these cuts and Republican plans to disembowel the social safety net — including Medicare and social security — is a deliberate policy choice aimed directly at the working class, low-income households, and the poor in this country.

“It’s part of this onslaught of safety net services being cut. I just heard from the city that they’re cutting the Emergency Rental Program 6½ months earlier than expected. And rents in May will go up 8.9% here in the District,” del Pielago said. “DC is super expensive, there are no livable wages for a certain population segment and there’s a sustained attack on low-income people. What we’re seeing in terms of the onslaught is the Trump effect coming into play. We have a bunch of people making these decisions which don’t benefit low-income residents and Black people. They were attempting, and now they’re having success.”

Miskey said as she views the challenges and devastation food insecurity has wrought on poor, near-poor, low-income, and middle-class Americans, she feels anger and frustration because most of this is and was avoidable.

“I think our systems have massively failed people,” she said. “I shouldn’t say that. I don’t think our system has failed. I think our system was set up to fail. They are set up to keep up the status quo, ensuring that those people of privilege and wealth maintain their privilege and wealth.”

Meanwhile, everyone else is blamed for their supposed character defects or failures because supposedly all the opportunities are out there if you grab them, Miskey explained.

“The fact is, our system creates massive barriers for opportunity and doesn’t allow huge chunks of our communities to actually access those things. That’s the shame of our system, the shame of our government. As I said before, we’re a system where we have a war on the poor, not a war on poverty.”

Matthew Desmond, a Princeton University sociologist and the director of the university’s Eviction Lab, said America has a poverty problem, and poverty and food insecurity are deeply intertwined.

“Poverty is measured at different income levels, but it is experienced as an exhausting piling on of problems. Poverty is chronic pain, on top of tooth rot, on top of debt collector harassment, on top of the nauseating fear of eviction,” said Desmond. “It is the suffocation of your talents and your dreams. It is death that comes early and often. From 2001 to 2014, the richest women in America gained almost three years of life while the poorest gained just 15 days. Far from a line, poverty is a tight knot of humiliations and agonies, and its persistence in American life should shame us.”

Desmond said housing assistance and food stamp programs are “effective and essential, protecting millions of families from hunger and homelessness each year,” he said in a March 16 column in the New York Times. “But the United States devotes far fewer resources to these programs, as a share of its gross domestic product, than other rich democracies, which places America in a disgraced class of its own on the world stage.”

That disgrace is illustrated in the stats showing that 33% of Americans live in households making less than $55,000, he said.

“Many are not officially counted among the poor, but there is plenty of economic hardship above the poverty line,” Desmond said. “And plenty far below it as well. According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for government aid and living expenses, more than one in 25 people 65 or older lived in deep poverty in 2021, meaning that they’d have to, at minimum, double their incomes just to reach the poverty line.”

He said Americans must commit to becoming poverty abolitionists to break this cycle.

“Like abolitionist movements against slavery or mass incarceration, abolitionism views poverty not as a routine or inevitable social ill but as an abomination that can no longer be tolerated,” he said. “And poverty abolitionism shares with other abolitionist movements the conviction that profiting from another’s pain corrupts us all. Ending poverty in America will require both short- and long-term solutions: strategies that stem the bleeding now, alongside more enduring interventions that target the disease and don’t just treat the symptoms.”

This includes appropriately addressing the housing crisis, which forces most poor renting families to devote at least 50% of their income to rent and utilities; immediately expanding housing vouchers to reduce the rent burden; pushing for “more transformative solutions” like scaling up the country’s public housing infrastructure; building out community land banks; and providing on-ramps to homeownership for low-income families.

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

Sen. Steve Glazer Vows Redo After Journalism Tax Bill Placed on Hold

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa County) shared his thoughts expressed his views about Senate Bill (SB) 1327 at Capitol Weekly’s “Covering California: The Future of Journalism in the Golden State” conference, which was held in Sacramento on May 30.

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Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) was the keynote speaker at Capitol Weekly's Covering California: The Future of Journalism In the Golden State event held in Sacramento on May 30. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) was the keynote speaker at Capitol Weekly's Covering California: The Future of Journalism In the Golden State event held in Sacramento on May 30. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa County) shared his thoughts expressed his views about Senate Bill (SB) 1327 at Capitol Weekly’s “Covering California: The Future of Journalism in the Golden State” conference, which was held in Sacramento on May 30.

During his keynote speech message at the one-day event, Glazer said admitted he couldn’t get the votes he needed to pass the bill SB 1327 that proposes imposing a “mitigation fee” on major digital technology companies to fund journalism jobs.

Despite the challenges, the Senator vows to keep the Legislation alive.

“We have had setbacks, and we have a lot of work to do to fix this, but I certainly am not giving up,” Glazer said at the event near the State Capitol. Glazer is chairperson of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

In addition to Glazer’s address, Capitol Weekly organized a probing conference that examined three of the most pressing issues facing California reporters.

Media experts, publishers, communications specialists, and political reporters assembled to discuss the preservation of fair, balanced, and accurate journalism. The need for media outlets to deliver high-quality news coverage that bolsters government, the assessment of new business models; and coverage of the State Capitol dominated the 5-hour event.

“It is nothing short of tragic I would say to see what is happening to the journalism industry,” said Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly’s Executive Director. “I’ve been in and around journalism since 1995 and what we are seeing today with the closing of the journalism industry is unprecedented in my lifetime.”

Glazer spoke for 45 minutes about the future of democracy and the role journalism plays in it. However, the Legislature’s failure to advance SB 1327 and why he pulled the bill was the main subject.

If SB 1327 should reemerge and be passed as law, fees collected would provide $500 million in employment tax credits to news organizations across California. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the bill with a 4-2 vote on May 16, but Glazer still needed a pathway for two-thirds of the votes required to make it off the Senate floor.

Glazer cited several reasons for why SB 1327 is facing opposition from digital tech giants like Google, Meta, Amazon, and publishers. These include concerns about increased advertising, the perceived threat of government influence, discrimination against larger publishers, a fear that the mitigation fee could trickle down to smaller news outlets as they expand, and nonprofit newsrooms that don’t pay taxes getting a share.

“Opponents will always sell the ghost in the closet,” Glazers said of entities that oppose the bill. “The news business is facing an existential threat, and they are fighting with each other over who will be the last passenger on the Death Star.”

California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) vice chair Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) said on May 16 at the State Capitol that his biggest concern about SB 1327 was whether it would benefit Ethnic Media, including Black media platforms. “They’re usually left and still need more assistance,” Bradford said.

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Public Policy Inst. of California Releases Data on Hate Crimes

Hate crimes against minorities have increased statewide over the last decade with a spike in violent crimes between 2020 and 2022, states a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report. The recent increase in violent hate crimes is backed by data revealing that victims were targeted based on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. Those violent hate crimes disproportionately affected Black, Latino, and Asian individuals.

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By California Black Media

Hate crimes against minorities have increased statewide over the last decade with a spike in violent crimes between 2020 and 2022, states a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report.

The recent increase in violent hate crimes is backed by data revealing that victims were targeted based on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. Those violent hate crimes disproportionately affected Black, Latino, and Asian individuals. Incidents of violent hate crimes including assault grew by 791. The number of property-related hate crimes, including vandalism, increased by 314 incidents. In all the incidents reported, 25% of the hate crimes included the use of weapons including knives, handguns, and clubs.

The report stated that violent hate crimes remain underreported. The California Department of Justice is working on plans to invest more money in facilitating the reporting of hate crimes and supporting communities affected most by these incidents.

According to the report between 2019 and 2022, hate crimes targeting Black people tripled, while incidents against Latinos doubled, and attacks against Asians more than tripled in recent years.

“These increases are overwhelmingly driven by violent rather than property crimes,” the report stated.

In 2022, approximately 75% of all reported hate crimes included violent attacks against Black, Latino, or Asian people.

The state has since passed bills to address current and emerging issues related to hate crimes. The Legislature passed AB 485 in 2020, requiring local law enforcement agencies to post monthly updates of hate crimes online. Legislators passed AB 449 in 2023, a law that requires local law enforcement agencies to report suspected hate crimes and provide information that helps report hate crimes to the state attorney general.

Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the “CA vs Hate” campaign, an educational awareness campaign that includes a hotline and online resources for reporting hate crimes. The campaign also provided funds to community-based organizations supporting victims of hate crimes.

“This potential change in reporting behavior, along with increased media attention to the problem, may be partially responsible for the recent uptick in the number of incidents we report on here,” the report stated.

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Opinion: Will Verdicts Help Black Voters See the Truth?

The news of Trump’s historic 34 guilty verdicts are about a week old. Has it sunk in that the man who insists on being the Republican nominee for president is the former president known officially as CFDT34? If the name sounds like a dangerous radioactive isotope, it is — to our democracy.

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CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.
CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.

By Emil Guillermo

The news of Trump’s historic 34 guilty verdicts are about a week old.

Has it sunk in that the man who insists on being the Republican nominee for president is the former president known officially as CFDT34?  If the name sounds like a dangerous radioactive isotope, it is — to our democracy.

CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.

We need to say CFDT34 aloud as a constant reminder. Too many Americans are in denial. Or just lying.

Especially, CFDT34 himself.

Trump insists it’s all a “fascist” witch hunt, but the verdicts were based on an avalanche of evidence. The defense failed to refute the statements of the National Enquirer’s David Pecker who admitted his role in the Trump campaign to catch, then kill, stories that threatened Trump’s candidacy.

The defense didn’t even attempt to explain Hope Hicks, an ally who delivered the damning testimony that Trump knew about the arrangement to pay off Daniels. Hicks was in tears telling the truth. The defense never countered.

And then there were the checks and invoices and ledger entries, that spelled out the whole scheme. The payments were lies, called “lawyer fees” but they really were reimbursements to attorney Michael Cohen who had used his own money to pay off Daniels.

Minor stuff? Not when done with the intent to violate election law. The payoff was intended to influence the election and it became an illegal campaign contribution as well.

And the hero is New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the African American man who led the prosecution. Bragg got justice for all voters denied the truth in 2016.

Contrast Bragg with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla). the key African Americans lying for CFDT34.

Scott and Donalds lack the courage to honor the rule of law. Rigged case, they say.  Never should have been prosecuted. Where was the crime?

All of it baloney.

Prior to the historic verdicts, there was some historic polling.

Black voters were seen as abandoning Democrats, with Biden scoring just 70% of the vote. Four years ago, Biden was at 81%.

CNN called the pre-verdict polling the best results for the GOP among Black voters since Nixon.

The age breakdown is more telling. Black voters aged 50 and up were about 85% for Biden. Those who recalled civil rights battles were holding steady for Democrats.

Among Black voters under age 50, a new divide was revealed.  A reported average of polls showed young Blacks were 27% for Trump, with Biden at 64%.

Nearly a third of young Blacks were for Trump prior to the verdicts. But what would young Blacks think now? Would they back a person like Trump, a man who comes with racist baggage like the Central Park 5 saga, and is now a convicted felon?

I haven’t seen new data yet. But with Biden and Harris stepping up their attention on the Black community, talking about economics and pocketbook issues, I’d expect a turnaround when young Blacks hear the lies and the overall hypocrisy among the GOP.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo, an award-winning journalist, and commentator has covered race and politics in Hawaii, California, and Washington, DC. He has worked in newspapers, TV and on radio was host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

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