Topic: Advocacy Programs

Help keep Portland a welcoming city for all

Act now to ensure Portland remains a vibrant, inclusive city where everyone has the shelter and basic supports they need to thrive.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Budget being voted on by the City Council introduces two harmful changes to the way social services are provided in Portland:

  • Eliminating additional overflow space for people seeking emergency shelter, breaking the city’s 30-year commitment to ensure everyone in need is sheltered
  • Phasing out the Portland Community Support Fund, which provides temporary assistance to asylum seekers

Fortunately, Councilor Costa brought forth two amendments — voted for unanimously by the Finance Committee on May 15 — that would maintain these critical, life-saving social services.

Portland cannot be a livable city without being inclusive. Cutting social services is wrong and ineffective.

If you live in Portland: Please email City Councilors today and tell them you support the amendments voted on by the Finance Committee. (Let us know once you’ve sent your emails so we can keep track.)

If you do not live in Portland: Please share this message today with 5 friends or colleagues who live in Portland and ask them to act on this important issue.

Everyone: Join us at City Hall for a demonstration on Monday, May 20 at 4:30pm before the 5:30pm City Council meeting where there will be a public hearing and vote on the budget.

We ask that people bring:
  • Signs including slogans such as “Keep Portland inclusive” / “We need a moral budget” / “Shelter save lives” / “Cutting social services is wrong”
  • Camping items, such as blankets, mats, and sleeping bags
  • Wear a black shirt (we will provide stickers)

Call template for City Council moral budget

Councilor ____________,

My name is _______________ and I’m calling to urge you to take a stand

  • for a moral City budget
  • for an Inclusive city

As the Council moves forward on deciding a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, I am connecting with Councilors to tell them that:

[Use any (or all) of these points in your message to City Councilors]

  • The budget should be determined based on a policy vision the councilors and our community lay out, not the other way around. As it currently stands, the City Manager has established budget priorities which determine policy priorities. As a result, our supposed resource constraints are determining how we make and keep our commitments to our neighbors.
  • Limiting overflow at the Oxford Street Shelter will mean reneging on a 30 year commitment Portland has made to provide emergency shelter to its most vulnerable citizens. Turning our backs on this commitment is unacceptable.
  • Phasing out the Community Support Fund without any alternative means making Portland less inclusive, not more. In practical terms, reducing the Community Support Fund means reducing assistance to asylum seekers for basic necessities such as food, shelter, and prescription drugs.

I believe that no person should be left unsheltered in Portland. Our city cannot be a livable city without being inclusive. I believe that using a budget to legislate is undemocratic and I urge the city not to use the budget to limit the policy work it needs to do. I believe we need a moral budget, and cutting social services is immoral and ineffective. Finally, I believe that we can’t address homelessness without addressing gentrification.

Thank you for your time, Councilor ___________.

Responding to the opioid epidemic with H.O.U.S.E

As hundreds more Mainers are killed by the opioid epidemic, Preble Street is proud to continue fighting for LD 1337: An Act To Save Lives by Establishing a Homeless Opioid Users Service Engagement Program (H.O.U.S.E.). This bill gives Mainers who are struggling with homelessness and substance use disorder access to the treatment, support services, and housing assistance they need to find recovery and stability.

On Monday, April 8, Preble Street joined dozens of community members and partners at the State House to testify in support of the bill and to say no more excuses, no more waiting, and no more lives lost!

“We cannot continue to delay action,” said Ashish Shrestha, Team Leader and Intensive Case Worker at Preble Street. “We cannot continue to allow our most vulnerable community members to literally languish on the sidewalks and streets. We must have the courage to provide dignity and hope, stability and recovery, treatment and housing, because this community cannot bear one more loss, one more year of suffering, one more long winter of being literally shut out in the cold.”

Advocate With Us To Fight Hunger in Maine!

March is National Nutrition Month and Preble Street celebrated by advocating for people to have access to the food they need to stay healthy and thrive.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Preble Street strongly opposes the Trump Administration’s proposed SNAP rule that would take food away from an estimated 755,00 people. 

We are in the final days to fight back against this harmful proposed policy submit your comment before April 2! Don’t miss this opportunity to make our collective voices heard: receiving food assistance shouldn’t be limited just because steady jobs aren’t available.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

On Monday, March 25 Preble Street joined other anti-hunger advocates at the State House to support bills that will fight childhood hunger by ensuring more Maine children have access to nutritious school meals.

LD 359 An Act To Address Student Hunger with a “Breakfast after the Bell” Program
Only 42% of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals participate in breakfast — from 2017-18 approximately 45,477 children missed out on breakfast daily! This bill would require schools with 50% or more of their students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch to implement a Breakfast after the Bell model, a proven best practice for increasing participation in school breakfast associated with higher test scores and better attendance. Read more about LD 359 and Breakfast After the Bell.

LD 549 An Act To Promote Academic Achievement through Hunger Relief for Maine Children
This bill would require schools to offer free lunch to all students who qualify for the reduced-price lunch program, providing free lunch to another 11,000 Maine students!

LD 701 An Act To Modernize the School Lunch Program
This bill would increase participation in free and reduced lunch by making an online application for these programs accessible to families with children in school.

You can help end childhood hunger in Maine! Call or email your Senator and Representative and tell them you support ending childhood hunger by serving Breakfast After the Bell through LD 359, and providing free lunch to all students eligible for the reduced-price lunch program through LD 549. 

Attention SNAP Participants

If you participate in SNAP, here is what you need to know while the federal government is partially shutdown.

  • February SNAP benefits are being issued in January.
  • Your SNAP benefits for February will be added to your EBT card on January 17, 2019.
  • These are February SNAP funds and there will not be another deposit until March.
  • You can continue to use your EBT card as normal at any authorized retailer.
  • If you need to apply for SNAP or need to recertify, you can still do this after January 17 — new SNAP applications and recertification will continue to be processed and we advise you to do this as early as possible.

If you need emergency help locating food, call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.org for a listing of nearby food pantries and soup kitchens.

Preble Street Receives Shaw’s Hunger Is Grant

Preble Street is truly honored to be the recipient of a $13,534.01 Hunger Is grant from Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation! Shaw’s is a longtime supporter of hunger relief causes, and this year’s Hunger Is campaign was the most successful yet. In addition to raising money, Shaw’s donates food from its stores and distribution centers. This equates to millions of dollars in food and financial donations each year to help people who need it most.

Thanks to our Shaw’s partners and their many customers who donated to support our organization, children in our area will get a healthy breakfast each day. Hunger Is beatable!

Preble Street applauds Congress’ passage of bipartisan Farm Bill protecting food assistance

On Wednesday, December 12 the House voted 369-47 to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill, following the Senate’s 87-13 vote to pass the bill Tuesday. Preble Street commends Maine’s Congressional delegation in voting to pass the bipartisan compromise, which protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a vital program that help millions of Americans put food on the table every day.

“The bipartisan Farm Bill agreement passed by the Senate yesterday confirms what millions of people across the country know to be true: SNAP reduces hunger and poverty. Protecting and strengthening SNAP is the right way forward,” said Donna Yellen, Acting Executive Director of Preble Street. “We are grateful that Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin all voted for this Farm Bill agreement to ensure Mainers have access to nutritious food.”

In communities across Maine, thousands of people struggle to access the food they need. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 15 percent of Maine households are food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough nutritious food.

Last year, Preble Street served over 600,000 meals through its three soup kitchens, food pantry, and emergency food boxes. While the emergency food system is vital, it would not have been able to make up for any cuts or harmful changes made to SNAP, which would have potentially caused tens of thousands of Mainers to lose access to the food assistance they need to make ends meet. The charitable response to hunger only provides about 5% of food assistance in the country, which means that the charitable system cannot fill the gap if government programs continue to erode. Preble Street is grateful this final Farm Bill agreement rejected damaging changes and will maintain a strong SNAP program that provides a lifeline for Mainers struggling with hunger.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is Maine and our nation’s most important and effective anti-hunger program. In 2017, SNAP helped 180,000 Mainers by providing access to nutritious food and the opportunity to shop for food with dignity. This Farm Bill ensures SNAP continues to feed families with children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and many working people who are in jobs with low wages or inconsistent hours.

With this responsible bipartisan bill, SNAP will help keep food on the table for the one in seven Mainers who participate in the program. Preble Street is grateful that Maine’s Congressional delegation supported this bill and proteced this critical program to help end food insecurity and hunger in Maine.

Support the Senate Farm Bill

You can fight hunger in Maine by protecting SNAP! The current Farm Bill expires on September 30. Call, email, and visit the offices of your members of Congress today!

  • Senator Susan Collins: (202) 224-2523 | email
  • Senator Angus King: (202) 224-5344 | email
  • Representative Chellie Pingree: (202) 225-6116 | email
  • Representative Bruce Poliquin: (202) 225-6306 | email

The Farm Bill is the largest policy impacting our food system and it provides crucial safety nets helping hungry households get enough to eat. Every five years the Farm Bill expires and is updated in a process which has traditionally been bipartisan and focused on providing adequate support for growing and putting enough food on the table for every American.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as food stamps—is part of the Farm Bill. SNAP is the first and most important line of defense against hunger and food insecurity. To make progress in reducing and eliminating hunger in Maine, and the nation, we must protect and strengthen SNAP.

However, on June 21 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the Farm Bill with cuts to SNAP that would increase hunger and hardship. The House Bill, H.R. 2, proposes harsh and ineffective work requirements, unrealistic time limits, and additional bureaucratic barriers. These changes would redirect vital food assistance funding from hungry, hard-working Americans into unproven, bureaucratic programs—causing more than 2 million low-income people to have their SNAP benefits reduced or lost altogether. The House Bill’s harsh cuts and added restrictions would increase hunger by taking food away from low-income Mainers, including children in working families, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-wage workers.

Fortunately, on June 28 the Senate passed their own version of the Farm Bill protecting SNAP benefits and eligibility and helping to keep food on the table for struggling households. The Senate Bill, S. 3042, displays strong bipartisan collaboration and preserves and builds on strengths of the SNAP program. Significantly, the Senate Bill avoids the harmful changes to SNAP proposed in the House Bill.

Now the House and Senate bills must be reconciled in the Farm Bill Conference. This is the opportunity to act! We must urge our senators and representatives to protect and strengthen SNAP, by supporting the positive provisions in the Senate Farm Bill and opposing the harmful cuts to SNAP in the House Bill. We need our senators and representatives to come together and pass a Farm Bill recognizing that every person and family deserves to have enough food to eat.


Senator Susan Collins: (202) 224-2523 (Washington D.C. office) | email
Thank Senator Susan Collins for her hard work and support for a bipartisan Senate Farm Bill protecting SNAP and strengthening some of its provisions. Tell Senator Collins now we need her to advocate for SNAP during conference. Ask Senator Collins: “Stand with and be a leader for hungry Mainers. Take a public stand to protect and strengthen SNAP, and urge Senate leadership and colleagues on the Conference Committee to reject the harmful changes in the House Bill that would take food away from hungry Mainers.”

Senator Angus King: (202) 224-5344 (Washington D.C. office) | email
Thank Senator Angus King for supporting a bipartisan Farm Bill that preserves SNAP and strengthens some of its provisions. Ask Senator King: “Continue to protect and strengthen SNAP by urging Senate leadership and colleagues on the Conference Committee to oppose any final Farm Bill that cuts SNAP funding or makes harmful changes to the program.”

Representative Chellie Pingree: (202) 225-6116 (Washington D.C. office) | email
Thank Representative Chellie Pingree for voting “No” on H.R. 2. Ask Representative Pingree: “Continue to reject any harmful cuts to SNAP from the House Bill. Be a leader for hungry Mainers and encourage colleagues on the Conference Committee to protect and strengthen SNAP.”

Representative Bruce Poliquin: (202) 225-6306 (Washington D.C. office) | email
Urge Representative Bruce Poliquin: “Support a Farm Bill including the positive provisions from the Senate Bill that will strengthen SNAP by modernizing systems, increasing program integrity, and using innovative pilots to strengthen SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs. Stand with the children, families, veterans, seniors, and communities in Maine’s 2nd district, where SNAP is crucial for low-income households and local economies.”

Hungry Mainers Rely on SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as food stamps—is our nation’s most important and effective anti-hunger program.

SNAP reduces hunger and food insecurity by providing low-income households with desperately needed assistance to purchase the food that they need. The monthly benefits provided by SNAP play a critical role in reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. SNAP provides a foundation for addressing and ending hunger because it provides the rapid, flexible, and targeted assistance that is needed to reach vulnerable populations and help lift hungry and very low-income Americans out of poverty.

SNAP benefits also empower hungry and food insecure households to reclaim dignity by enabling individuals and families to purchase and consume food that fits their nutritional and social needs. This leads SNAP to improve health and well-being, learning outcomes for children, and employment and earnings for adults.

Finally, SNAP benefits entire communities by bringing more money to food sellers—from grocery stores to farmers’ markets—which provides a monthly boost to local economies. SNAP also relieves pressure on overwhelmed charitable food providers—including soup kitchens, food banks, pantries, and religious congregations—which, alone, are not able to meet the demand and scale of hunger in their communities.

In Maine, SNAP is the first and primary line of defense for helping hungry people get enough to eat. Specifically, SNAP supports low-income Mainers reduce stress and financial strain by helping households put food on the table when they have nowhere else to turn.

As a rural state with some of the lowest average weekly wages and the highest percentage of seniors (over 65) in the nation, SNAP is vital for helping vulnerable Mainers stretch tight budgets and get food on the table.

  • 62% of Maine SNAP participants are in households with children
  • 46% contain household members who are elderly or have a disability
  • 42% are in working households

Hungry Mainers rely on SNAP! To fight and eventually end hunger in Maine we must continue to protect and strengthen this vital anti-hunger program! Find out how you can help protect SNAP now!

*Maine SNAP participant data taken from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Fight hunger in your community!

One in seven Mainers in food insecure. Here are ways to fight hunger in your community!

Volunteer

At your local food pantry. See this list of Cumberland County Food Pantries or visit 211.org for pantry information.

At your local Summer Meals Site. To find a list of sites near you visit: fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

Conduct Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach at your local food pantry or community organization. Contact Maine Hunger Initiative (MHI) to learn more about becoming a SNAP volunteer.

Advocate

Have you experienced hunger or food insecurity firsthand? Contact MHI to find anti-hunger advocacy opportunities including testifying for legislation, focus groups, educational opportunities, and more!

Call Legislators

SNAP is funded through the Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization this year! Call your representatives today and tell them “SNAP is a lifeline for hungry Mainers.”

  • Bruce Poliquin – Bangor: 207-942-0583
  • Chellie Pingree – Portland: 207-774-5019
  • Susan Collins – Augusta: 207-622-8414
  • Angus King – Augusta: 207-622-8292

For more information on how SNAP keeps food on the table for hungry families visit frac.org.