Latino Magazine recently held its first No Mas Hambre Summit in Washington, D.C. to heighten public awareness and foster a national conversation about hunger in the Latino community, so compelling that one in three Latinos in America are currently facing hunger. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) promoted nutrition programs at the anti-hunger event that brought community leaders, hunger relief activists, industry and government from around the country together for a day of panel and roundtable discussions with the objective of eliminating hunger in the Latino community.
In the panel discussion SNAP Outreach for Latinos, Lisa Pino, FNS Deputy Administrator for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, indicated that outreach to Latino communities is a top priority for the Food and Nutrition Program. Though the SNAP program serves more people than ever, many of those who are eligible to participate do not. In fact, only 56% of Latinos who are eligible for SNAP are receiving aid.
"Partnering and outreach efforts are currently underway to communicate SNAP eligibility criteria and improve program access for those in need," Pino said. "There's an ongoing challenge to eliminate misinformation about the program, including misconceptions about immigration status and program eligibility."
Immigrants must prove legal status to apply for SNAP. Children may be able to get SNAP even if their parents cannot. Getting SNAP will not hurt chances to become a citizen if an individual is documented. Pino cited that FNS is working on culturally competent materials that convey program eligibility information in clear and concise language.
Cindy Long, Director of the FNS Child Nutrition Division, participated in a Perspectives on Hunger and Health Disparities panel with the Office of Minority Affairs and the National Hispanic Medical Association. Long focused on program changes under the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, recent legislation that reauthorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including School Breakfast, School Lunch and the Summer Food Service Program, improving the nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. Long cited the improvements in the nutrition standards for school meals and new standards for all foods sold in schools as critical components supporting healthier eating for children. She also noted the importance of summer feeding efforts to ensure that children in need have access to nutritious meals when school is out.
Alfredo Estrada, magazine founder and editor, indicates that he plans to continue publicizing the high incidence of hunger within the Latino community and work towards building a coalition of concerned communities nationwide to move the magazine's anti-hunger agenda forward. Estrada anticipates a second annual No Mas Hambre Summit for next year. Additional information about the initiative is found at www.nomashambre.com.