Illinois Commission to End Hunger reviews its 2016 Annual Report
Illinois Commission to End Hunger met Thursday, Nov. 10 to discuss its 2016 Annual Report and the school breakfast program.
The goal of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger is to ensure that no man, woman or child in our state goes hungry.
Here are the minutes as provided by Illinois:
Thursday, November 10, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Illinois Department of Agriculture, 801 E. Sangamon Avenue, Springfield, IL – FFA Conference Room
Attendance (Commissioners/Designees): In-person: Kate Maehr, Janice Glenn, Grant Hammer, Janine Hill, Tom Browning, Julie Yurko, Mike Miller, and Mark Haller. On the phone: Angel Gutierrez, Esperanza Velazquez Gonzales, Karen Lehman, Elizabeth Diaz-Castillo, Mary Ellen Warren, Kathy Chan, Andrew Hammond, Dan Lesser, Lynda Williams, and Brian Colgan.
Others in-person: Nicole Robinson (GCFD), Suzy Lee (GCFD), Aimee Ramirez (GCFD), and Alicia Huguelet (GCFD). Others on the phone: McKenzie Speer (Shriver Center).
I. Welcome – Meeting called to order at 11:11 a.m. by Kate Maehr
II. Minutes from last meeting
Mike Miller moved to approve the minutes and Angel Gutierrez seconded the motion to approve.
III. 2016 Annual Report – All Commissioners have received both a hard copy and an electronic copy of the report. Kate initiated a discussion about how and to whom the report could be disseminated. The report will go out with a letter to all of the ILGA members – sent out in partnership with Janice. Kate talked about how we can get the report to rise above the other various mailings and reports that people receive. Kate shared that the target audience goes beyond elected officials to other policy makers and decision makers throughout the state. Angel shared that he has a meeting this afternoon with the Office of Catholic Education of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He also suggested that we may want to get this report into the hands of the President-elect Trump transition team. Kate asked that anyone who has a direct connection to the transition team to let us know if they would be willing to share that on behalf of the Commission.
Janine talked about the importance of getting it to superintendents and other larger educational groups to help raise awareness about our work on implementing the school breakfast bill. Mark was not sure how much this has been shared in the past but that he could easily share an electronic copy to food service management personnel, the superintendents bulletin, and another weekly newsletter that goes out to superintendents and other administrators. Mark said they could also share that out via ISBE’s social media channels. Kate emphasized that social media is another thing that can be a useful tool for all members and also to think about how to share with the natural partners and networks of their own organizations. Nicole talked about the fact the report also has stories about real people and that can be really powerful and we should go back to them and should be shared back with them. Grant shared that this could also be shared with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, and Jen Hammer in the Governor’s office and the Mayor’s Office in the City of Chicago. Kate stated that we could also work through the various Commission members to get to their own local leaders. Janice also asked about the people that participated in the Illinois Hunger Summit and that we should reach out to them electronically to share the report and let them know about it. Aimee talked about the importance of also connecting with the various agriculture groups in the state like the Pork Producers, the Farm Bureau and other key agriculture groups and Grant indicated that is something that he could help us think through. Mike Miller raised the issue of how to coordinate our communication efforts on this and Kate indicated that we will share the general outreach plan. Tom also indicated that the state staff members that oversee SNAP and WIC should receive this. Kate shared that for some of those types of staff, our goal will be to have face-to-face meetings in order to really articulate the opportunities that we see going forward.
IV. No Kid Hungry Working Group update
Tom shared that the school breakfast legislation passed unanimously in both chambers and the Governor signed the legislation on August 19, 2016. Tom also thanked everyone for their hard work on this initiative. Janine shared the No Kid Hungry Illinois FY 17 strategies, which really build on the previous year’s work. There have been three school breakfast implementation events in Cook County so far that reached about 50 participants and we have already received 55 school breakfast expansion grants for the fall round of grants – this is the most grant applications that have ever been received. Janine talked about the importance of the model used to drive and generate grant applications. Tom shared that the legislation goes into effect for the 2017-18 school year and that we have our work cut out for us in the months ahead leading up to this and we will need the help of all the Commission members. Tom also shared that there will be a school breakfast implementation event in January 2017 where we will ask you to try to think of additional organizations and agencies that could assist and partner in this work.
Mike Miller asked that we disseminate the list of schools that the new legislation will impact with the Commission members so that people can reach out as needed.
Kate noted that other states have experienced challenges in implementing similar school breakfast legislation and programming. Suzy talked about that some of the things that have come up including the importance of having staff be aware of this at all levels in the schools – from the principals to the maintenance and janitorial staff. Other factors that can be impactful are timing from passage to implementation and that the fact that we have a year makes this much more feasible. Another general issue is that school districts have more accountability measures, attendance objectives, etc. than they have ever had before and generally more than 50% of public school students are eligible for free and reduced meals. So our plan is to be up in front with resources and support first – before emphasizing the mandate and the rules of it because we want to be encouraging. Some schools have expressed concern about the time and effort involved for teachers and custodial staff – in addition to the nutrition program staff at a given school. The last piece would be the transportation factor and thinking about that fits in to the feasibility of students use. Also really important to make sure that parents are aware of the change as well – particularly if the school has elected for CEP.
Mark talked about the Every Student Success Act (ESSA) which puts a focus on non- academic support in schools and the importance of wellness in general to overall student success and he believes that will help put some focus on this issue. Tom shared that this is what is trending and so if we frame it in this way that can really help in the engagement of schools out there and focusing on how this fits into achieving higher educational results. Mark indicated that states are really in Stage One of ESSA planning right now and the plan is scheduled to be submitted to Governor Rauner by March 2017. There are opportunities for how people can get involved in this process on the ISBE website front page.
Janine provided an update about the listening tours that were planned – aiming for doing a tour in the Waukegan school district sometime in early 2017. In terms of summer meals, Janine shared that there were 172 total sponsors which was an increase – though there was a slight decrease in the number of SFSP sites. The Lt. Governor has been incredibly helpful with summer meals and getting them into counties where they are not available. There were six new counties that offered SFSP during the last summer. Kate shared that the Lt. Governor’s enthusiasm and willingness regarding SFSP was a tremendous asset and we would love to have that assistance again. Brian Colgan indicated that she is all in on this issue and that we should build out a plan for the year ahead of time and that we should put together our strategy on this now. Janice asked about why the decrease in sites and Suzy shared that they believe that the state budget played a role but that there were likely other factors. Mike Miller shared that River Bend Foodbank has not been staffed on SFSP in the past and that will be different in the coming summer as this will be a focus area for them.
Tom provided an update on the federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization and indicated that the current programs are being funded through continuing resolutions and they expire on December 9, 2016. The Senate Bill is the preferred version of the two CNR bills that are current out there. Tom indicated they circulated a letter of support to raise the importance of the issues for our legislators in Washington, DC.
Tom also provided an afterschool programs update and the group is working hard on brining SFSP and At-Risk Afterschool programs together so that there are stronger partnerships and collaborations there. This year 9,000 more children were added to the program and there were ten new sponsors, many of which already run a summer program.
V. Benefits Access Work Group update – Kathy Chan shared that Governor Rauner announced last month that the state would seek to renew the ABAWD waiver for the coming year. Many people on the Commission were very engaged in this effort and many other advocates played a key role in bringing people together to make this possible. It is anticipated that some or all of Illinois will no longer be eligible for this waiver in 2018 and so we are working now to figure out the implementation strategy for this so that we could get ahead of this issue now – talking about individual categories of participants that could be exempted and what the process for that will look like. Also want to ensure that training and employment opportunities are in place to make sure that people can be connected with these opportunities so that they are able to meet the work requirements to continue to participate in the program. Want to think through how we can work with the department, leverage current efforts, and look at best practices in other states to see what is working well for others to minimize negative impact. Dan added that there will be a tremendous outreach effort as well – DHS estimates there are approximately 200,000 individuals that would be subject to this time limit and to make sure people understand who is exempt and what people need to do in order to comply and so we will have to be working on that. Kate shared that she recently talked with IDHS Secretary Dimas and that he recognizes that IDHS needs the help with this outreach piece. Kate talked about thinking about how we need to connect on this right now. IDHS is planning to send a notice out to the entire SNAP caseload because they are concerned that people can become ABAWD’s and this just makes the outreach effort that much greater and whether or not it even applies to them – can create a high level of confusion out there. Julie shared that from NIFB’s perspective Holly Baker-Lutz who is on the Benefit Access Work Group and they are already identifying ABAWD’s in the system so that they can be reached out to.
Kathy shared that another item that the work group will be working on in the coming year is WIC because enrollment remains high for pregnant women and infants remains high, but enrollment declines once children are older. The work group will be engaging other partners in this effort and there may be some coordination with the No Kid Hungry work group on this.
The work group will also be monitoring the overall SNAP enrollment data and the IES system implementation project so that when the state moves to this new system – consumers will have increased capability to report changes online and access more information about their case. Also want to make sure that there is not a disruption in services as an unintended consequence of going live with the new system. The state does not have a new official date but it will likely go live sometime in 2017.
Some members are also working on a toolkit and resource guide about how healthcare providers can help connect their patients with food assistance resources. Kathy put a call out to the Commission to solicit who else might have best practices in this area across Illinois that could be highlighted and that food banks and food pantries have already established relationships with healthcare providers and want to include highlighting this work as well. Please email Kathy with any ideas and she would follow-up on those items.
Julie Yurko posed a question if we were doing any work around being able to use a telephonic signature on SNAP applications. Alicia Huguelet stated that the state (IDHS) is unlikely to be able to pursue something like this until the second phase of IES is complete but that it should be a priority and we could begin talking with the state about it now to get their perspective on it as well.
VI. Emergency Food System Work Group update – Mike Miller reported that our grant application to establish an agricultural surplus program to purchase surplus crops either from farmers or processors was not selected. The work group needs to identify what potential next steps would be. Grant shared that the requests for funding far exceeded the amount of funding available and the selection process was handled by an external committee – most of the projects ended up going for University type research. Grant indicated they would be interested in outlining what it would take to establish a food surplus chain within the state – cold storage – who would operate it – how would that be able to operationalized. Kate shared that would be welcome and that there have been conversations in fits and starts in the past. For example, we explored a project to collect surplus eggs that don’t meet weight requirements but that did not end up gaining traction. There might be private philanthropic resources or a corporate sponsorship to fund a pilot program to help us determine if this could be done. Mark Haller shared that we may able to tie into the contractors that we use for USDA commodities cold storage. Mike shared anything that we could do to plug into food that might become available through the state food system. Grant asked about a regional comparison of food system surplus – if that could be sent to him that could help generate some ideas. He also shared that he thinks the Department of Agriculture can help connect the food banks with resources and wants to connect us with their Communications team on this front to get this ideas in front of the agriculture sector a bit more.
Mike indicated that we are moving to deer hunting season and through Illinois DNR, hunters can take deer to processors and then there is a fund that will pay for the processing and there is another private resource fund that can be used for this as well. NIFB does an amazing job with this program and we are focused on trying to leverage this work more across the state. Janice asked about the grant request that was denied and if there are opportunities to resubmit. Mike said the concept is ready to go and that model could be used to submit for other funding opportunities out there.
Karen shared that on November 17th that there was a REFED report that highlights the importance of consumer education on date labeling and also efforts to connect the dots between food recovery and processors. FOREFRONT and many other partners are having a funder-focused event which will include panelists from GCFD, Feeding America, City of Chicago, and the USDA. The City of Chicago is trying to figure out how to deal with food waste coming out of Chicago Public Schools. This event is bringing together both local and national groups to explore some of these topics. Karen offered to report out on this following the event to the Commission group. There are opportunities to get more materials out to trash trucks and other entities – also on the consumer education side that might build support for our work. Roadmap Illinois has identified food waste as one of its priority issues that it will work on.
Aimee shared that there was recent state legislation requiring that food be distributed as it was intended and that could also be something that we could raise awareness about around the state.
VII. Other updates
a. Kate shared that the date for the 2017 Hunger Summit has been set for May 16, 2017 and that we are again planning to hold a Commission meeting as part of that event. Kate asked the commissioners to mark this on their calendar for now and more information will be made available soon.
b. Commission Appointments – Kate raised the issue of potential commission appointees – we currently have four open seats (list the four areas). Kate has had a couple of conversations with people who have shared an interest in supporting this work – including Access Living and Equip for Equality for the advocate with disabilities. Kate has also reached out to the CEO of the Ounce of Prevention Fund for someone representing children and youth. Kate asked that if people have other ideas to please let us know of any commission member ideas that other people have.
c. Other business or updates from Commissioners. No new business or issues were raised.
Kate adjourned the meeting at 12:32 p.m.