Food Policy Update – May 2019

This Food Policy Update from the Mississippi Center for Justice is the first in a new series on emerging legal and policy efforts and opportunities to foster a food secure, healthy, and just state for all. Sign up to receive future updates via email here, and view archived updates here.

Advocacy Alerts

Help us build a food secure future by calling on Congress to end hunger and informing policy innovations promoting access to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Call on Congress to End Hunger: Next week on Capitol Hill, the Mississippi Center for Justice and The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi will ask members of Congress to help end hunger in our state by protecting and strengthening federal nutrition programs and investing in solutions to community food insecurity and college hunger. We invite your organization to co-sign our one-pager on federal anti-hunger policy priorities by this Friday, May 10. 

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Strengthen Access to Nutrition in SNAP: The Gus Schumacher Incentive Program (GusNIP, formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program) supports projects that help make fruits and vegetables more affordable and accessible to low-wealth individuals participating in SNAP and nutrition assistance at the point of purchase, such as produce prescription programs. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently published a request for applications (RFA) for FY 2019 GusNIP grants of $100,000–$8,500,000. Grant applications are due June 10th. NIFA is also accepting public comments to inform the FY 2020 RFA through October 2019.

Mississippi 2019 Legislative Recap

This session, advocates secured two exciting legislative victories that will help fight hunger and advance food security statewide.

SNAP/TANF Drug Felony Ban Lifted: On April 16, Governor Phil Bryant signed H.B. 1352, the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2019. H.B. 1352’s bipartisan reforms include a provision authored by the Mississippi Center for Justice, which opts out of a longstanding federal ban on SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility for individuals with a drug felony conviction effective July 1, 2019. Mississippi is the 49th state to address the ban through legislation—a significant victory in the fight against recidivism and hunger.

Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Repealer ExtendedHFFIprojects provide loans and grants to help grocery stores, farmers markets, and other retailers overcome monetary barriers to selling fresh and nutritious food in low-wealth and underserved communities. Projects help build healthy and just food systems and strengthen local economies. Mississippi’s law authorizing the state Development Authority to establish a program following the HFFI model would have expired this year, but The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippiand members of the Mississippi Grocery Access Task Force successfully advocated for enactment of H.B. 1132, the Small Business and Grocer Investment Act of 2019, which extends the law’s repealer through July 1, 2022.

Federal Policy Monitor

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed public charge regulation is not final, but it is already fueling fear and hunger among lawfully present immigrants and citizen family members in Mississippi.

Get the Facts: For information on the federal government’s proposed regulation expanding public charge grounds for inadmissibility, its emerging harms, and how you can help fight misinformation and protect families, visit the Mississippi Center for Justice Blog or call (601)352-2269.

Community Resources: The Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future Campaign offers free community resources on public charge for organizations and individuals that work with immigrants.

Get Legal Help: Worried about what the proposed public charge rule could mean for you or your family? Contact the Mississippi Center for Justice at (601)352-2269 for legal guidance on public charge determinations and public benefits (e.g., SNAP, Medicaid) participation.

For information regarding this Food Policy Update or for legal or policy assistance on issues related to food security or public benefits, contact Madeline Morcelle, JD, MPH, Staff Attorney at the Mississippi Center for Justice, at mmorcelle@mscenterforjustice.org.

Madeline Morcelle, JD, MPH, is a Staff Attorney focused on food security and public benefits issues at the Mississippi Center for Justice.