Sequestering Meals on Wheels Could Cost the Nation $489 Million per Year
Source: Center for Effective Government
Sequestering Meals on Wheels funds could cost taxpayers far more than it saves. While across-the-board spending cuts that began March 1, called sequestration, are expected to reduce spending on Meals on Wheels programs this year by an estimated $10 million, these savings will be dwarfed by at least $489 million per year in increased spending on Medicaid, both this year and in each subsequent year that sequestration remains in place.
Outside of Washington, waiting lists for Meals on Wheels enrollees have received media attention, but the expected savings have remained largely unquestioned. In reality, cutting Meals on Wheels will very likely increase the federal deficit by increasing the overall cost burden and shifting it to Medicaid, local charities, and other programs.
Overall, Meals on Wheels saves the federal taxpayers money by helping participants live at home instead of living in comparatively expensive nursing homes. The average cost to Medicaid of nursing home care per patient is approximately $57,878 annually.
By contrast, the cost to Medicaid of home care is much lower, approximately $15,371 annually, or $42,507 less than nursing home care. Nationally, according to a survey by the Administration on Aging, as many as "92% [of enrollees] say Meals on Wheels means they can continue to live in their own home."
Based on these estimates, our analysis suggests that sequestering Meals on Wheels funds will actually cost the U.S. taxpayer $479 million dollars over the seven months it will be implemented during this federal fiscal year, which ends September 30 (see the appendix for details of this estimate). Moreover, because sequestration-related cuts are expected to increase in FY 2014 and beyond, if sequestration is not reversed, Medicaid-related costs will increase even more in those years.
Source: Institute of Medicine
For many Americans who live at or below the poverty threshold, access to healthy foods at a reasonable price is a challenge that often places a strain on already limited resources and may compel them to make food choices that are contrary to current nutritional guidance. To help alleviate this problem, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a number of nutrition assistance programs designed to improve access to healthy foods for low-income individuals and households. The largest of these programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, which today serves more than 46 million Americans with a program cost in excess of $75 billion annually. The goals of SNAP include raising the level of nutrition among low-income households and maintaining adequate levels of nutrition by increasing the food purchasing power of low-income families.
In response to questions about whether there are different ways to define the adequacy of SNAP allotments consistent with the program goals of improving food security and access to a healthy diet, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study to examine the feasibility of defining the adequacy of SNAP allotments, specifically: the feasibility of establishing an objective, evidence-based, science-driven definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments consistent with the program goals of improving food security and access to a healthy diet, as well as other relevant dimensions of adequacy; and data and analyses needed to support an evidence-based assessment of the adequacy of SNAP allotments.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy reviews the current evidence, including the peer-reviewed published literature and peer-reviewed government reports. Although not given equal weight with peer-reviewed publications, some non-peer-reviewed publications from nongovernmental organizations and stakeholder groups also were considered because they provided additional insight into the behavioral aspects of participation in nutrition assistance programs. In addition to its evidence review, the committee held a data gathering workshop that tapped a range of expertise relevant to its task.
Source: Chatham House
Food crises are the deadliest natural disasters, resulting in up to 2 million deaths since 1970, yet responses to them are reactive, slow and fragmented.
A new report, Managing Famine Risk: Linking Early Warning to Early Action argues that whilst famine early warning systems have a good track record of predicting food crises, they have a poor track record of triggering early action to protect lives and livelihoods.
Major improvements in the sophistication and capabilities of famine early warning systems provide the opportunity for decisive early action, but also the opportunity for prevarication, delay and buck-passing among governments and humanitarian agencies.
There is also added political pressure not to report food crises, says Rob Bailey, the report’s author.
‘Governments in at-risk countries may suppress famine early warnings if they are concerned it will challenge their record on hunger reduction,’ he said.
2012 Global Hunger Index
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute
The 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report—the seventh in an annual series—presents a multidimensional measure of global, regional, and national hunger. It shows that progress in reducing the proportion of hungry people in the world has been tragically slow. According to the index, hunger on a global scale remains “serious.” The 2012 GHI report also focuses particularly on how to ensure sustainable food security under conditions of land, water, and energy stress. The stark reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources, while eliminating wasteful practices and policies.
In the coming decades food security will be increasingly challenged by land, water, and energy scarcity. To improve poor people’s nutrition and food security in this environment, we will need to make a diverse range of foods more available and accessible, identify and address wasteful practices and policies, and ensure that local communities have greater control over and access to productive resources. In other words, we need to build a sustainable world, where the degradation of ecosystems is halted or reversed and all people have access to food, clean water, and modern energy and are empowered to use them for their own well-being.
Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not
Source: Institution of Mechanical Engineers
By 2075, the United Nations’ mid-range projection for global population growth predicts that human numbers will peak at about 9.5 billion people. This means that there could be an extra three billion mouths to feed by the end of the century, a period in which substantial changes are anticipated in the wealth, calorific intake and dietary preferences of people in developing countries across the world.
Such a projection presents mankind with wide-ranging social, economic, environmental and political issues that need to be addressed today to ensure a sustainable future for all. One key issue is how to produce more food in a world of finite resources.
Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. Furthermore, this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts of land, energy, fertilisers and water have also been lost in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste. This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands.
Source: Bread for the World Institute
A new report issued today by the Bread for the World Institute reveals the extraordinary progress many countries around the world have made in achieving the development goals they agreed to 12 years ago. However, programs that support these efforts could be derailed, depending on the outcome of ongoing U.S. negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The United States is the largest provider of poverty-focused development assistance programs in absolute terms. These effective programs are at risk in these negotiations.
The 2013 Hunger Report: Within Reach—Global Development Goals, calls for a renewed push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline and urges a focus on ending hunger and extreme poverty in a post 2015 development framework and set of goals.
While the progress in achieving the MDGs is encouraging, it is uneven and much remains to be done. The 2013 Hunger Report outlines current and future challenges. Meeting those challenges will depend on strong leadership, effective institutions, and partners committed to working together. The report also proposes that the next set of goals should include a target to reduce stunting—an indicator of malnutrition among young children—as well as the vulnerability and inequality that causes stunting.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board (EFS) Program provides supplemental funding to homeless services providers across the nation. EFS was first authorized by P.L. 100-77, the Stewart B. McKinney-Bruce Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Title III, McKinney-Vento Act), which became law in 1987. Eligible services include the provision of overnight shelter and served meals, assistance to food banks and pantries, one month’s rental or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions, and one month’s utility payments to prevent service cut-offs.
Since its inception, the program’s recipient organizations have provided over 2 billion meals, 241 million nights of shelter, 4.3 million rent and mortgage payments, and 5.9 million utility payments. The program is administered by the EFS National Board, which is chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and is comprised of representatives from the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, the National Council of Churches, the Salvation Army, United Jewish Communities of North America, and United Way Worldwide. Two of the program’s distinguishing features are its focus on local decision-making, and its relatively modest administrative costs.
The program was last authorized in 1994, and has been operating under authority provided by annual appropriations acts. In the past, its funding has generally increased during times of high unemployment and decreased as the unemployment rate declined. For example, in FY2008, the program received an appropriation of $200 million. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, ARRA) temporarily increased the EFS program’s funding to $300 million for FY2009. In more recent years, the program’s funding has declined. The program received an appropriation of $200 million for FY2010, $120 million for FY2012, and $120 million for FY2012.
Although legislation providing EFS an appropriation of $120 million for FY2012 was signed into law on December 23, 2011, the distribution of the program’s funds did not begin until August 15, 2012, the latest award distribution date in the program’s history. FY2011 was also a notable year for the program because the EFS National Board changed its distribution formulas, resulting in some large jurisdictions not receiving direct funding for the first time.
The National Board’s distribution formula uses unemployment and poverty statistics to determine amounts awarded directly to communities across the nation. After notifying jurisdictions of the amount that they will be receiving, EFS Local Boards, comprised of local affiliates of the organizations represented on the National Board, at least one homeless or previously homeless person, and representatives of local government, are convened. Local Boards advertise the availability of funds, accept applications for funding, and determine which local agencies to fund and how the funds are to be used. The National Board also provides funding to State Set-aside Committees (SSA) which provide funding to jurisdictions with significant needs that may not have qualified under the National Board’s formula, or to further supplement funding to jurisdictions that received a direct award. Each state, through direct awards and SSA, receives a minimum of $250,000.
EFS, originally envisioned as a one-time emergency program, has distributed more than $3.9 billion to over 2,500 local jurisdictions and more than 12,000 local service organizations (both non-profit and governmental).
The EFS program’s rules and processes emphasize fast response, local decision-making, and local accountability. Some federal programs have emulated its local board approach for decisionmaking on the use of resources for programs for the homeless. Over the last decade, congressional oversight has occurred through annual appropriations hearings on FEMA in general.
This report examines the administrative history of the program, the evolution of its award process, and the issues that Congress may consider as the EFS program approaches its fourth decade. In particular, the report highlights recent program delays in funding and, in general, how the EFS program and its emphasis on emergency services fit into the context of the federal government’s approach to addressing homelessness.
New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
International Food Assistance: Improved Targeting Would Help Enable USAID to Reach Vulnerable Groups. GAO-12-862, September 24.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648737.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/648770
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Biosurveillance: DHS Should Reevaluate Mission Need and Alternatives before Proceeding with BioWatch Generation-3 Acquisition. GAO-12-810, September 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648025.pdf
2. Securities Investor Protection Corporation: Customer Outcomes in the Madoff Liquidation Proceeding. GAO-12-991, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648238.pdf
3. Public Financial Management: Improvements Needed in USAID’s and Treasury’s Monitoring and Evaluation Efforts. GAO-12-920, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648222.pdf
4. Slot-Controlled Airports: FAA’s Rules Could Be Improved to Enhance Competition and Use of Available Capacity. GAO-12-902, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648218.pdf
5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Commerce Program Has Helped Manufacturing and Services Firms, but Measures, Data, and Funding Formula Could Improve. GAO-12-930, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648212.pdf
Trade Adjustment Assistance: Results of GAO’s Survey of Participant Firms in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program (GAO-12-935SP, September 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-930. GAO-12-935SP, September 13.
7. Industrial Base: U.S. Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Manufacturers Face Period of Uncertainty as DOD Purchases Decline and Foreign Sales Potential Remains Unknown. GAO-12-859, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648266.pdf
8. Community Banks and Credit Unions: Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act Depends Largely on Future Rule Makings. GAO-12-881, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648209.pdf
9. Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996: Status of Treasury’s Centralized Efforts to Collect Delinquent Federal Nontax Debt. GAO-12-870R, September 13.
10. Financial Stability: New Council and Research Office Should Strengthen the Accountability and Transparency of Their Decisions. GAO-12-886, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648065.pdf
1. Spectrum Management: Federal Government’s Use of Spectrum and Preliminary Information on Spectrum Sharing, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-1018T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648205.pdf
2. Biosurveillance: Observations on BioWatch Generation-3 and Other Federal Efforts, by William O. Jenkins, Jr., director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittees on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Homeland Security Committee. GAO-12-994T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648267.pdf
A Roadmap to End Global Hunger
Source: World Food Program USA
The Roadmap for Continued U.S. Leadership to End Global Hunger celebrates the U.S. role in responding to humanitarian crises and alleviating chronic hunger. To ensure U.S. programs to fight global hunger continue to positively impact the lives of millions of people in need, the Roadmap outlines six recommendations for future action.
Estimating the Range of Food-Insecure Households in India
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
This study provides a quantitative assessment of food security using a large household-level expenditure survey conducted by the Government of India during 2004/05. The analysis tests the impact of several key assumptions required to estimate actual calories consumed from the expenditure data. The authors found significant differences in the estimates of calories consumed and the number of food-insecure people under alternative plausible assumptions for computing the calorie content of nonprocessed foods, processed foods, and meals eaten outside the household. The measurement errors were largest in accounting for calories consumed by the highest and lowest income households. Overall, the difference between the highest and lowest estimate of the number of people consuming an average of less than 2,100 calories per day was equivalent to about 17 percent of India’s population, or 173 million people in 2004/05. Given the significant measurement error in estimating calories consumed, it is important to consider not only consumption surveys, but also aggregate food availability studies and survey data on anthropometric measures that accompany undernourishment—such as growth stunting—in assessing food insecurity.
From L’Aquila to Camp David: Sustaining the Momentum on Global Food and Nutrition Security (PDF)
- U.S. leadership on global hunger and food security has been instrumental in leveraging substantial additional resources and reversing decades
of decline in funding for agricultural development.
- The 2012 G-8 Summit at Camp David is an important opportunity for President Obama and other G-8 leaders to take stock of the progress made by the 2009 G-8 Summit’s L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) and reaffirm their commitment to improve smallholder agriculture.
- Since 2009, the United States has also helped raise awareness of the urgency of improving nutrition in the critical 1,000 Day window between pregnancy and age 2. G-8 leaders should endorse the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, commit to a bold nutrition target to mobilize action, and ensure that investments in agriculture are improving maternal and child nutrition.
- Building on the foundation laid by AFSI, future investments should also focus on building resilience in communities; strengthening local capacity to address chronic food insecurity and respond to crises; mainstreaming gender; and adapting to climate change.
- Moving forward, it is critical that there is greater transparency around commitments and investments.
Effective Development Assistance: Now is the Time (PDF)
Source: Bread for the World Institute
Bread for the World and other organizations working to end global hunger frequently talk about development assistance and how it can help hungry people overseas. But what exactly is development assistance? And why should we support funding for it when many Americans are facing hard times?
Senior Hunger Report Card™ from Meals On Wheels Research Foundation Finds America Failing Nation’s Seniors
The Meals On Wheels Research Foundation (MOWRF) today issued the first annual Senior Hunger Report Card™ (Report Card), which evaluates the nation’s performance in reducing food insecurity and eradicating hunger. The Senior Hunger Report Card™ examined America’s progress in eight categories and assigned grades including the following:
- A grade of “F” for Overall Performance: 8.3 million seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2010. This reflects a 78% increase since 2001 – and a 34% increase since the start of the recession in 2007.
- A grade of “F” for Economics: Since 2009 and the end of the recession, the risk of hunger for the overall US population has declined. However, during the same time period food insecurity increased among those age 60 and older – primarily among the near-poor, with income one to two times the poverty level.
- A grade of “F” for Women’s Studies: The effects of food insecurity are disproportionately borne by women, who make up over 60% of seniors facing the threat of hunger. Senior women are more likely to face the threat of hunger than their male counterparts – and the gender gap has widened since 2009.
- A grade of “F” in Ethics: In the richest nation on Earth, more than 1 in 7 seniors is threatened by hunger. This increase from 1 in 9 seniors in 2005 foretells an alarming human cost if this national crisis is not reversed.
- Other grades include: a “D-” for Geography, a “D+” for Multicultural Studies, a “C-” for Home Economic and an Incomplete for Health & Physical Education.
Save the Children’s thirteenth State of the World’s Mothers report shows Niger as the worst place to be a mother in the world — replacing Afghanistan for the first time in two years. Norway comes in at first place. The Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom ranking, which compares 165 countries around the globe, looks at factors such as a mother’s health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health and nutrition. This year, the United States ranks 25th.
This year, ahead of a crucial G8 meeting where President Obama is expected to discuss food and agriculture, the State of the World’s Mothers report focuses on nutrition as one of the key factors in determining mothers’ and their children’s well-being. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of at least a fifth of maternal mortality and more than a third of child deaths.
Of the ten countries at the bottom of Save the Children’s annual index, seven are in the midst of a food crisis. Niger, in bottom place, is currently in the grip of a worsening hunger situation, threatening the lives of a million children. Four of the bottom ten countries have seen an increase in stunting over the past two decades — where children’s mental and physical growth is permanently blighted by malnutrition.