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Helping our American Veterans and Working Together

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Lt. to Rt. Ms. Cherry Smart LCSW Department of Veterans Affairs, Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Coordinator, Mr. Michael Hajnrizeder VA assistant, Mr. Sky Lukas coordinator C&P Laboratories, Mr. Stephen P. Smith Executive Director American Veteran Food Assistance Program and Mr. Christopher Hawley President C & P Laboratories. They all were assisting in loading the VA van with food to help our American Veterans. 

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Written by americanveterannewspaper

November 10, 2010 at 1:32 am

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2010 in Review

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Some highlights of the 2010 year so far:

Mr. Stephen P. Smith Executive Director of the American Veteran Food Assistance Program and Ms. Megan Noicely-Moulton MSW,RCSWI Social Service Coordinator for TheVeterans Support.org. Mr. Smith is assisting in the loading of food to assist there organization in feeding more of our American Veterans. 


Mr. Giacomo J. Coschignano (Jack) Senior Social Worker Department of Veteran Affairs and Mr. Stephen P. Smith Executive Director American Veteran Food Assistance Program both loading the VA van with food. This food goes to Veterans Transitional Housing programs in Miami Dade County. 


Mr. Stephen P. Smith Executive Director American Veteran Food Assistance Program and Gina Queen, MSW,LSW, CMHP Coordinator Veterans Health Care for Homeless Veterans Programs Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Queen is receiving food for the homeless American Veterans that she assists. 


The Veterans New Life Haven receiving food from the American Veteran Food Assistance Program. The AVFAP assists many other Veteran organizations in Miami Dade County with food and supplies for our Veterans.

Written by americanveterannewspaper

October 10, 2010 at 12:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Almost 1 in 10 Floridians on Food Stamps

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BY JOSE PAGLIERY

jpagliery@MiamiHerald.com

Unemployed and strapped for cash, Floridians are asking for state assistance to feed their families in record numbers.

In the last two years, the number of Floridians on food stamps has increased more than 40 percent to 1.7 million. That increase is the highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And it’s the second-largest jump in the state’s history, surpassed only during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, said an analyst at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based think tank.

Almost one in 10 Floridians is now on food stamps, and state managers say many more qualify.

Evidence of the unprecedented rise was on display at the Florida Department of Children & Families office in Miami recently, where the line of people waiting for help snaked out the door and around the corner.

One of them was Hardy Prado, who held his 22-month-old daughter in his arms while he waited to check on the status of his application.

As a handyman, his work is irregular and his paycheck isn’t enough to pay the bills. And Prado said it has been almost impossible for his partner, Ana Camacho, to find work since she left her job at a Doral flower shop on maternity leave in February 2007.

With every increase of the unemployment rate, drop in the housing market and tightening of credit, food stamp lines have lengthened, said Stacy Dean, a director at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

People ”lose income, and they need help buying food,” she said.

Dean said it’s no surprise that Florida’s increase surpasses the rest of the nation. Nationally, states hit hard by the housing downturn have experienced the largest increases, such as Nevada.

The nationwide rise, Dean said, is consistent with previous recessions. In 1991, the number of Floridians on food stamps was close to one million people — about 7.7 percent of the population.

Of the 1.7 million now on food stamps, about 356,000 of them live in Miami-Dade County, more than 127,000 in Broward.

A person living on their own who earns $1,127 or less a month can qualify for food stamps, as can a family of four making $2,297 or less monthly. The dollar requirement changes depending on the number of people in the household.

Certain documented immigrants are eligible and no poor undocumented immigrant children are turned away.

The program requires people ages 16 to 60 years old to ”register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program to which they are referred,” according to DCF’s website. If they don’t seek work, adults ages 18 to 50 can receive food stamps for only three months in a three-year period.

Those accepted into the program receive state-issued plastic cards that work like debit cards. Users can swipe them at machines in authorized food stores, and the cards’ electronic accounts are replenished automatically every month — no more paper “stamps.”

While those kind of updates have improved the program’s efficiency, surging demand has considerably stressed the state’s ability to provide services.

”You would expect to see some decline in service when you see this huge demand,” Dean said.

Processing applications for food stamps is taking longer — close to 20 days compared to the typical 15 to 17.

The department has 4,500 employees in their ACCESS program, which handles social welfare applications. The food stamp program is one of several.

Last year, the department’s top officials asked to hire 150 more employees, but statewide budget cuts prevented that. This year, DCF is requesting 288 of them. DCF spokeswoman Sarrah Troncoso said they are hopeful the state Legislature will approve the request at its next session in the spring.

”We wouldn’t have requested them if the need weren’t there,” she said.

The weakening economy also has strained the region’s food banks that helped provide groceries to low-income families before food stamps kicked in.

Nonprofit food pantries, where families can walk in and pick up a free bag of food, are seeing fewer donations.

The Pantry of Broward has seen a big increase in traffic since opening in mid-2008, said Bruce Harris, the Pantry’s director of development. The nonprofit serves close to 253 households and takes 15 to 20 new clients each day, Harris said.

But Harris expects the monthly donations of between $15,000 to $20,000 to drop off considerably in January. Ursula Williams, a case manager at the pantry, is worried that increased demand coupled with a drop in charitable donations will force them to turn away hungry families.

”We wish DCF were not so overwhelmed, but they are,” Williams said.

Farther south, at Curley’s House of Style Hope Release Food Bank in Model City, the number of monthly customers has jumped from 731 to 1,633 in the last two years, the same period of the food stamp spike.

”Probably due to the recent layoffs,” she said. “A lot of people who never even thought they’d be on food stamps are in line now because they need to eat.”

Holliday said she started seeing more people line up at her nonprofit in August. By November, lines were a daily occurrence.

Ella Kitchen is a regular. The 70-year-old diabetic said she distributes her monthly $402 Social Security check among her few bills: medicine, rent, and her light and water bills.

Curley’s helps her supplement her food assistance program, she said.

After a few short minutes, one of the volunteers handed Kitchen a white plastic bag. Inside was a box of Triscuits, a box of wheat thins and wheat crackers, and two soda cans.

”Grandma always needs help,” she said, walking away with her bag in hand.

LaVerne Holliday, the center’s administrator, said the influx of needy families in search of food means donations rarely touch the shelves anymore — donors practically hand them right to volunteers who hand them to customers within minutes.

Dean, of the Washington think tank Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, said food stamps are one of the clearest indicators of economic need, after unemployment insurance.

Just as applications for food stamps spiked as the recession worsened, ”when the economy gets better, caseloads go down,” Dean said.

DCF officials hope people in need will not hold back from applying to the federal program, despite delays.

”We want everyone who thinks they’re eligible to go ahead and apply,” she said. http://mcclatchy.112.2O7.net/b/ss/nmmiami/1/H.10--NS/0?pageName=Story:%20829187%7CAlmost%20one%20in%2010%20Floridians%20on%20food%20stamps&server=www.miamiherald.com&channel=Today%26%2339;s%20Top%20Stories&c1=http%26%2358;%26%2347;%26%2347;www.miamiherald.com%26%2347;884%26%2347;v-fullstory%26%2347;story%26%2347;829187.html&c3=Story&c4=miamiherald%7CXMUltra%7C%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%3Ca%20href=%22mailto:jpagliery@MiamiHerald.com%22%3Ejpagliery@MiamiHerald.com%3C/a%3E%0A%7CBY%20JOSE%20PAGLIERY&c6=MIA%7CMA&c28=&h1=MIA%7CMIAMIHERALD%7CNews%7C%7C%7C%7C%7CToday%26%2339;s%20Top%20Stories

Written by americanveterannewspaper

December 31, 2008 at 3:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Announcing 2009 Homeless Legislative Day

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FCHonline.org


Florida Coalition For The Homeless
606 W. 4th. Ave. Ste12 Tallahassee, FL 32303 • 1.877.205.0021


The 2009 Homeless Legislative Day is scheduled for March 25, 2009 in Tallahassee. We hope that you will be able to join us to advocate on behalf of those experiencing homelessness in the state of Florida.

The FCH legislative priorities are available on the FCH Advocacy webpage. Issue papers will be made available in January to provide talking points on each legislative priority. Weekly updates on legislation will be posted to the FCH website throughout the legislative session.

Stay posted for details of the schedule for legislative day and dates for advocacy trainings via teleconference.

If you have any questions, contact Freyja Harris at freyja@fchonline.org.

Happy Holidays from the Florida Coalition for the Homeless!

Written by americanveterannewspaper

December 27, 2008 at 3:28 am

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Food Banks Report Dramatic Increase In Demand

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America's Second Harvest. The Nation's Food Bank Network. Hunger Advocate. Issue 3. August 2008

Last week, Feeding America released a new survey reporting that food banks across the country are experiencing an average increase of 30 percent in requests for emergency food assistance. More than 90 percent of food banks cited food prices and unemployment as the primary factors contributing to the increases in demands. More than 70 percent of food banks reported that they are currently unable to meet the needs of hungry people in their community without having to reduce the amount of food they are distributing to their agencies and clients. For more information, follow the link below.
http://feedingamerica.org/~/media/Files/research/local-impact-survey/2008-impact-survey.ashx

In January, Congress will consider economic recovery legislation to help jumpstart the economy. Feeding America is calling upon Congress to include relief for hungry Americans and food banks by enhancing food stamp benefits and providing additional funding to purchase, store and distribute surplus commodities through USDA. This support is critical to ensure that our nation’s food banks can continue meeting these dramatic surges in demand. Call and write your legislators today and urge them to pass an economic recovery package that helps ensure that hungry men, women and children have access to food in the coming months.

Visit www.hungeractioncenter.org to send a letter!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION!

Written by americanveterannewspaper

December 23, 2008 at 3:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

FOOD STAMPS: THE RIGHTS OF HOMELESS FAMILIES

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NATIONAL LAW CENTER ON HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY

FOOD STAMPS: THE RIGHTS OF HOMELESS FAMILIES
A FACT SHEET FOR ADVOCATES

THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM IS AN IMPORTANT SAFETY NET FOR MANY HUNGRY FAMILIES. YOU CAN BE AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INFORMATION FOR THE NEEDY FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT YOU SERVE.

WHAT IS THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM?
The food stamp program is a federal nutrition program which helps people with low incomes to buy food. Participants are issued either an electronic debit card (much like an ATM card) or food coupons which can be redeemed for certain types of foods at participating grocery stores.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Food stamps are given to households whose income is below the food stamp limits. It is common to work and still receive food stamps. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or fit in one of the categories of eligible immigrants, must have a social security number, and must comply with certain work requirements.

HOW DOES SOMEONE APPLY FOR FOOD STAMPS?
1. The applicant must first fill out a food stamp application at the local food stamp office. To locate the local food stamp office in your area, you can call the state food stamp hotline. The state hotline numbers are available on the USDA’s website at:
http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/contact_info/

2. The applicant will then be scheduled for an interview with a caseworker who determines eligibility. The applicant will be required to provide certain documentation. The food stamp office should give the applicant a list of things to bring to the interview at the time of he/she applies. These may include paystubs, an ID, and utility bills.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
Once the food stamp office receives the application, it has no more than 30 days to act on the application and issue food stamps if the household is eligible. Households that have income below a certain level may be eligible for emergency or “expedited” food stamps. If the household is eligible for expedited food stamps, the client must receive the food stamps within seven calendar days
(and sooner in some states). Many homeless families are eligible for expedited food stamps due to their income level; Homeless families should be encouraged to ask for expedited food stamps.

DOES A FOOD STAMP APPLICANT NEED A PERMANENT ADDRESS TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
NO! Homeless families are eligible to receive food stamps even though they live in a shelter, lack a mailing address, or live on the street.

DOES A FOOD STAMP APPLICANT NEED A PLACE TO COOK OR STORE FOOD TO RECEIVE FOOD
STAMPS?
NO! Homeless families are eligible for food stamps even though they may lack a place to cook or store
food.

DOES AN APPLICANT NEED A PHOTO ID TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
NO! The applicant must provide proof of identity. This can be done in a number of ways, however. The applicant can provide, for example, a paystub or a birth certificate. An eligibility worker can also verify the applicant’s identity through a “collateral contact” such as a shelter caseworker. Homeless clients who lack identification should ask the eligibility worker to use a “collateral contact” to verify identity.

IF YOU HEAR REPORTS OF CLIENTS BEING WRONGFULLY DENIED FOOD STAMPS, OR IF YOU HAVE
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM, PLEASE CONTACT SARA SIMON, EQUAL JUSTICE
WORKS FELLOW, AT (202) 638-2535 EXT. 205 OR SSIMON@NLCHP.ORG

Written by americanveterannewspaper

July 26, 2008 at 12:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Charities Forced To Do More With Less – Please Support Your American Veteran Food Assistance Program

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By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) — Ordinary Americans aren’t the only ones being punished by tough economic times. Charities say they need help, too.

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Food bank leaders say they they are facing one of the worst food shortages in decades.

Charitable groups that help the poor — food banks, thrift stores, shelters — say the slumping economy is eroding their ability to help the nation’s needy. They report declining donations and a surge in people seeking help.

Bill Bolling, the founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, says he’s experienced several recessions but never seen so many working people visit food banks. Bolling’s charity donates food to 800 nonprofit groups in Georgia.

“This is new for us,” Bolling said. “People are giving up buying groceries so that they can pay rent and put gas in the car.”

National charities like Goodwill Industries International Inc. and The Salvation Army give the same grim assessment — donations are down, needs are up.

At least 1.3 million more people have enrolled in the federal Food Stamp Program compared to last year, says Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, one of the nation’s largest hunger-relief groups. It donates food to at least 200 food banks.

“People who have been in food banking for years say it’s the worst they’ve ever seen,” Fraser said.

People often assume food bank customers are homeless. But several food bank officials across the country say that many of their customers are working-class people and their numbers are increasing.

They are people like Lynette Copeland, who works full-time as a clerk at a rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s buying a Habitat for Humanity house and drives a car. But she says she doesn’t make enough money to pay her bills.

Copeland says she depends on the Atlanta food bank to feed the four grandchildren she raises alone. She says the high costs of food, fuel and daycare force her to eat meat sparingly and shop at Goodwill.

“Although everything is going up, your pay rate doesn’t go up,” she said.

Lately, Copeland says she has noticed a change in the makeup of the customers visiting her food bank. Instead of the homeless and destitute, people come from all walks of life: the elderly, men in security guard uniforms and mothers with children.

Many are first-timers. Some are too ashamed to ask for food in front of others; so they walk to the side of the food bank where fewer people are gathered to receive food, she says. Video Watch food bank leaders talk about their needs »

“I’m never ashamed to ask for help,” Copeland says. “I don’t care how people look at me.”

Charities blame their struggles on a brutal convergence of factors: rising food and fuel prices, the foreclosure crisis, and a decline in federal donations to food pantries.

Donna Rogers, a spokeswoman for the United Food Bank in Mesa, Arizona, says her group is trying to do more to accommodate the surge in customers. Her bank distributes food to soup kitchens and shelters in Arizona.

They are trying to give more, though, with less. Donations of canned goods are down 35 percent from last year; dairy and frozen meat donations are down by 26 percent, Rogers says.

The decrease in donations is coming at the same time food prices are increasing, she says. The price of macaroni and cheese, for example, increased by 44 percent from last year’s price.

“It’s been the worst case of food inflation of 20 years,” Rogers says.

The amount of surplus food they receive from the federal government is also decreasing.

The federal government donated $242 million in surplus food to food banks, soup kitchens and emergency shelters in 2003. Last year, it donated $58 million in surplus food to the same places, says Jean Daniel, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agricultural.

The federal government’s food donations didn’t decline because it decided to provide less, she says. It declined because the American agricultural industry is experiencing strong sales and record exports.

The federal government buys surplus food from farmers to donate to charities. Those farmers, though, have less surplus food to sell because the agricultural market is so strong.

A farm bill pending in Congress would increase aid to food banks, but it hasn’t passed yet, says Fraser, with America’s Second Harvest.

“If the farm bill is passed, it’ll give millions of dollars in aid to food banks,” Fraser says.

Even if the farm bill is passed, just getting food to needy people may become a problem. High fuel prices are bleeding charities, several say.

The executive director of one food bank in Orlando, Florida says one of his drivers paid $880 to fill up a tractor- trailer hauling donated food.

It would have cost about $660 to fill up the tank last year, says Dave Krepcho, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

“This is getting really crazy,” Krepcho says. “If those trucks don’t move, the food doesn’t flow.”

People are even turning to charity in unexpected places, says one Salvation Army spokeswoman.

Spokeswoman Melissa Temme, said a Salvation Army shelter in one of the most affluent counties in Kansas recently reported it was filled to capacity with a waiting list.

The 13-year-old center has never been full before, she said.

Salvation centers across the country are reporting similar stories, she says.

“Some areas had more people coming to them and other areas had the same number of people but the extent of their need increased,” Temme says.

Copeland, the Atlanta food bank customer, says she can’t envision a day when she won’t have to depend on charity for survival. Her bills are too much and her pay too little.

And, she says, her faith helps her through these tough times.

“If you don’t have a strong spiritual foundation, you cannot survive what’s going on today,” she says.

“I get through with a lot of prayer.”

Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 24, 2008 at 2:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized