May 17, 2011

More than one in four Latinos are food insecure, and low participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) puts Latino families at greater nutritional risk than families in other demographic groups. This is due, in large part, to misconceptions around the rules governing program eligibility.

In order to increase awareness of and participation in SNAP among Latino families, Feeding America is partnering with the ConAgra Foods Foundation. Together with Feeding America food banks in targeted communities, this initiative will work towards the goals of increasing the number of SNAP applications submitted for benefits from Latino households and decreasing barriers in accessing the SNAP program by expanding the number of access points where families can learn about benefits.

"Together we have the power to inform the nation about the struggles that our low-income Latino communities face and advocate for better support for our neighbors in need," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization."Hunger affects people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and all communities. And although hunger does not discriminate, it does affect populations at unequal rates and in different ways."

In fall 2010, ConAgra Foods Foundation funded a joint research project by the Urban Institute and Feeding America that showed that nearly one in three Latino children in the United States received services from Feeding America food banks. Because Latino children and their families are significantly less likely to receive SNAP benefits, Feeding America and ConAgra Foods Foundation are committed to doing more outreach because of the high need in the Latino community. ConAgra Foods Foundation will support the Latino SNAP outreach by providing funding for three to four food banks to test localized solutions in reaching Latino populations. The food banks will be selected via a competitive RFP process from"hunger hot spots" with the highest rates of Latino food insecurity.

"We know that children, regardless of race or nationality, are vulnerable to the impacts of food insecurity and hunger, and Latino families are less likely to receive SNAP benefits than families in other demographic groups. And while this is a nearly universal problem, there is no single solution that will help all families," said Kori Reed, vice president, Cause & Foundation at ConAgra Foods."By supporting Feeding America, we can better understand how to help Latino families get the assistance they need to provide their families with nourishing meals."

The SNAP outreach efforts by Feeding America, supported by the ConAgra Foods Foundation, will complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) La Mesa Completa initiative addressing program access and participation in the Hispanic community.
"With one in four Latino families struggling to put food on the table, USDA is working to expand access and participation to families in need," said Max Finberg, director of the USDA's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, part of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships."Latino faith and community leaders are the trusted messengers for those they serve and their partnership is critical to tapping into food banks and networks to reach the underserved Latino community."

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