Success with AdvocacyEHC! is a statewide anti-hunger and food security organization. By focusing on advocacy, outreach, education, and research EHC! serves as a comprehensive anti-hunger resource for community organizations, legislators, and low-income families. The goal of EHC! is to improve the levels of food security and nutrition among Connecticut families while creating and supporting policies that move families toward self-sufficiency.
Our Advocacy Work
As members of Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s Task Force on Children and the Recession EHC! played a vital role in ensuring that SNAP and child nutrition programs were integrated throughout the legislation that was the end result of the Task Force. The Task Force, chaired by State Representatives Karen Jarmoc and Diana Urban, with help from the Connecticut Commission on Children, crafted le gislation making Connecticut the first state in the nation to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of children during an economic downturn. Triggered by an 8 per cent or higher unemployment rate state policy requires a leadership team from across state agencies to coordinate a response to children's needs, such as increased hunger. For more information please visit the Connecticut Commission on Children's website.
This very comrell_signs.jpgprehensive legis lation in clu des significant provisions for nutrition. Alon g with coordination of nutrition services, an outreach plan is included to increase partic ipation in school breakfast (in-classroom, or after the school bell), summer feeding programs and after school snacks and suppers. Food security, and the need to ensure children and their families are well nourished are main components of the legislation.
EHC! executive director Lucy Nolan co-chaired the SustiNet Child and Adult Obesity Task Force with Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. The task force is charged with studying “childhood and adult obesity through examine of evidence-based strategies for preventing and reducing obesity and develop a comprehensive plan that will result in a reduction in obesity.” Read the final report here.
EHC! continues to work with the WorkingLands Alliance and support their legislative efforts to preserve Connecticut farmland. EHC! also continues to work with Better Choices for Connecticut on revenue enhancements.
EHC! had several top policy and legislative accomplishments during 2009. In a difficult year for state funding nutrition programs remained intact. EHC! worked to pass the Menu Labeling law (vetoed by the Governor), and successfully fought off a 50% cut to funding Healthy Food Certification for CT schools. School Breakfast funding of $1.6 million remained intact as well. While we were unable to increase the Connecticut Nutrition Assistance line (protein foods for food pantries) additional food ended up being available for that program through ARRA funding.
The Governor announced during her budget address that the state would implement Categorical Eligibility for the SNAP program. EHC!’s administrative advocacy was instrumental in getting the state to increase SNAP income limits to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level with no asset limits. From June (before implementation) to July 2009 (after implementation) there was a 4% increase in SNAP beneficiaries – the third highest in the nation for that time period!
EHC! supported and spoke at several legislative events for Connecticut's Dairy Farmers. We supported a program which translated into a $10 million boost of funding to Connecticut dairy farmers. EHC! executive director Lucy Nolan spoke about the federal food programs and the requirement for milk in each of them, as well as the health benefits of dairy for low-income children.
EHC! worked in conjunction with the coalition Better Choices for Connecticut to increase public awareness of alternative revenue sources rather than cutting essential services. While this was accomplished through television and radio advertisements (funded primarily through labor unions) all members worked to educate state legislators on creating a more equitable tax system.
EHC! unveiled the Connecticut Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, a 10-point plan to alleviate and end childhood hunger in the state. Using the federal nutrition programs as the basis for the Campaign, EHC! developed an action plan to increase participation in these programs. School Breakfast and Summer Food was priority legislation for the Senate Democrats during the 2008 legislative session. The legislation would have increased school breakfast grants to encourage "after the school bell" breakfast, increased the number of schools serving breakfast and funded outreach for summer food-all proven ways to get children the very necessary meals and nutrition needed to learn and grow strong. Unfortunately, no new initiatives were funded during the session as the Governor, House, and Senate leaders chose to keep the biannual budget voted on the previous session and not vote on a "mid-year" adjustment. EHC! has started the conversation around these issues and will continue to pursue a Childhood anti-hunger bill.
While there was no "mid-year" adjustment EHC! was highly successful in winning positive policy for Connecticut's hungry and food insecure during 2008.
* Working with the Department of Social Services, legislation passed removing motor vehicles as an asset for the food stamp program which not only increases accessibility to the program but decreases DSS intake time with the clients
* Partnering with the state's two food banks, Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare, EHC! successful advocated for an increase in $100,000 to the low funding the state gives the State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, now called the Connecticut Nutrition Assistance Program (CNAP). CNAP pays for protein foods that are bought by the food banks and allocated to food sites.
* EHC! was able to bring to the table legislation that requires the legislature to set up a WIC Advisory Board in the state. EHC! advised a local group, CitySeed, on winning passage to increase funding by $500,00 for Senior Farmer's Market Coupons.
This was a good year for EHC! at the Capitol. Working closely with the Senate Pro Tempore Donald Williams EHC! was able to facilitate the passage of the strongest anti-junk food and beverage legislation on the nation.
* An Act Concerning Healthy Foods and Beverages in Schools was vigorously fought by the soda and snack food industry. The bill eliminated the sale of any beverage in Connecticut's schools except water (no natural or artificial sweetener accepted), milk, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice. School Districts may opt to increase their funding by an additional 10 cents per lunch served by agreeing to abide by Connecticut's Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools, as developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education.
* Senator Williams introduced legislation to offer grants for in-classroom school breakfast for severe-need schools. As part of the final budget $50,000 in funds were authorized for in-classroom school breakfast, as well as an additional $50,000 for state funding for the School Breakfast Program. This incentive is seen as a way to encourage schools to serve breakfast and to pay for necessary items needed to run the program properly.
EHC!'s work on school nutrition and school breakfast helped people understand the connection between food insecurity and childhood obesity. Children who have access to regular nutritious meals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases caused by being overweight. And we all know that everyone, children and adults, are more successful in life when they are not hungry.
EHC! was active at the State Capitol on seemingly disparate issues. Staff and members worked on increasing accessibility to the School Breakfast Program, increased staffing at the Department of Social Services, retaining State Funded Food Stamps for legal immigrants, increased funding to congregate food sites for the elderly, and the development of standards for school nutrition and exercise.