[Hpn] 2 Articles: Healthy meals for hungry Vermonters; Officials fear Section 8 cuts; Vermont Guardian; 11/19/2004

Morgan W. Brown Morgan W. Brown" <morganbrown@gmail.com
Fri, 19 Nov 2004 06:50:26 -0800

Two articles published within this weeks (Friday, November 19, 2004)
issue of the "Vermont Guardian" [a weekly statewide publication] and
available on its online edition, which may be of possible interest.

They are:

Local News section
Healthy meals for hungry Vermonters

Local News section
Officials fear Section 8 cuts

For those not inclined to click the links however, below are forwarded
copies of both article fyi.

Morgan <mo'rganbrown@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:


-------Forwarded articles-------

Friday, November 19, 2004
Vermont Guardian
[weekly publication]
Local News section
Healthy meals for hungry Vermonters

By Joel Senesac | Special to the Vermont Guardian

If it's better to teach people to fish than to give them fish,
teaching them to cook the fish might be the best lesson of all.

That's the lesson of Cooking for Life, a program offering food and
nutrition courses for families on limited budgets. It is one of the
many ways that the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, founded
in 1992, helps the thousands of children that face hunger and/or

The campaign focuses some of its effort on addressing "food
insecurity," when a family doesn't regularly have enough money to buy
nutritious food or to stay active and healthy. From 1999-2001, roughly
one out of every 10 Vermont households were food insecure, census
figures show.

The situation is especially dangerous for families with young
children, said Joanne Heidkamp, VTCECH program manager. "Even what
someone would consider mild, occasional hunger can impact a child's
health, their immune response, their behavior, their ability to learn,
and ultimately affect their potential to become a productive adult,"
she said.

Cooking for Life is a collaboration between VTCECH and the University
of Vermont Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition Program. In each
course, consisting of six two-hour sessions, students learn from UVM
educators and local volunteer chefs about cooking, planning meals, and
shopping for food on a budget. Then they take ingredients home to cook
for themselves.

Rather than trying to recruit course participants, Cooking for Life
works with social services agencies that are willing to host classes.
Since the program's start in 1999, Cooking for Life has held more than
160 courses and helped more than 1,700 families, Heidkamp said.

The Cooking for Life adult course is directed at pregnant women and
parents of families at or below 185 percent of poverty level ($34,872
for a family of four, according to federal guidelines). Aside from
cooking and meal planning, topics include the importance of fruits and
vegetables and physical activity.

For low-income and at-risk children around middle-school age, a youth
course is offered at places like Boys and Girls Clubs, teen centers,
and after-school programs. A program for older teens is in an
experimental stage. Topics are much the same as the adult courses, but
also include maintaining a healthy body image and the study of the
media's influence on body image.

Evaluations of the program show that after taking the course,
participants spend less money on food; consume more grains, fruits,
and foods high in protein; and get more essential vitamins and

Karen Dolan, Cooking for Life coordinator and registered dietician,
said reaching out to young people helps build early healthy eating
habits that stays with them for years to come.

"It's very rewarding to put on these classes … and see just the
participants' feedback because they are so appreciative to gain this
knowledge, to gain these skills," Dolan said.

Rewarding good behavior

In October, VTCECH was one of 18 recipients of the Ford Foundation's
2004 Leadership for a Changing World Awards. With the award comes a
$100,000 grant and $15,000 for activities over the next two years.

"Essentially, it's acknowledging our effective, broad-based,
comprehensive approach to address this issue statewide in Vermont and
it's acknowledging that our work has genuinely had an impact,"
Heidkamp said.

That approach includes advocating for school participation in federal
meals programs, organizing summer meals through participation in the
federally funded Summer Food Service Program, educating Vermonters
about food stamps, and helping people apply for benefits.

Another of VTCECH's major goals is to educate the general public and
raise awareness of a hunger problem that many Vermonters don't know
exists. Hunger may not be obvious to people not trained to see the
signs, Heidkamp said.

VTCECH works with local organizations, churches, and schools to help
identify the problem. Hidden Hunger, is a 17-minute video offered free
to any of these groups, which Heidkamp says is a valuable tool for
organizations planning food drives during the holiday season.

"People see starvation in Africa and they think that's what hunger
means and they don't understand that chronic under-nutrition, periodic
missing of meals, is also one of the faces of hunger and that it's
devastating, especially for children and also for the elderly," she

In Vermont, hunger activists who teach cooking skills often come
across youth who know too well what it means to eat from a limited
"Some of these kids, they're very young, they're already the meal
providers for their family," said Bernadette Bessette, a UVM food and
nutrition educator.

Bessette recalled one class where the students were uncooperative at first.

"They had a chip on their shoulder and they obviously weren't
interested in cooking or nutrition," Bessette said. "Those kids really
had a complete attitude change-around by the end of that six weeks and
those kids volunteered and they worked a whole Saturday from nine in
the morning until nine at night to make a community meal as a
fundraiser. … [When the class first started] I never would have
believed that those kids would have done that."

Posted November 19, 2004


Friday, November 19, 2004
Vermont Guardian
[weekly publication]
Local News section
Officials fear Section 8 cuts

By James Pentland | Special to the Vermont Guardian

BRATTLEBORO — As the lame-duck Congress gets down to work this week on
nine budget bills, housing advocates are keeping their fingers crossed
that some of their more vulnerable clients won't become casualties in
the process.

Against the backdrop of the Bush administration's recommendation that
lawmakers cut the Section 8 housing voucher program by $1.6 billion,
House and Senate negotiators are working on a compromise that will
almost certainly keep funding closer to the level needed to ensure
that people will not lose their subsidized housing.

But the uncertainties, along with the White House's evident desire to
slash a program generally considered successful at moving people out
of poverty, have Vermont housing authorities concerned.

"This year is a bit of a nail biter," said Chris Hart, executive
director of the Brattleboro Housing Authority. "I'm concerned that
we'll have overspent and will have to find money from elsewhere. It
may be that we can't put 187 vouchers out next year."

The 12 housing authorities in Vermont, which administer the voucher
program at the local level, already took a hit this year when the
federal Department of Housing and Urban Development changed its
formula for funding vouchers and also cut administrative funding by 6
percent, retroactive to January.

For reasons that are unclear, the Burlington Housing Authority
suffered an 11 percent cut in administrative funding, according to
Executive Director Paul Dettman, and consequently ended its fiscal
year in June with a deficit. The authority has since laid off two
employees and left a third position vacant.

"So far, the impact's all on the administrative side," Dettman said.
"We haven't had to cut support."

Washington staff members for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said this week
that the senator's office is working to restore the funds to the
Burlington authority.

Hart said that the 6 percent cut is felt keenly in Brattleboro, and
the authority there may end the year on Dec. 31 in the red, too.

Instead of providing each authority with enough money to cover all
vouchers currently in use, as it has done traditionally, HUD's new
funding formula is based on numbers from 2003, plus an adjustment for

For most authorities, this means a cut.

Brattleboro, for example, had only 175 vouchers out at the cutoff
point — 12 fewer than it has now. In June, the Brattleboro authority
closed its Section 8 waiting list, which had 90 names on it, and has
shelved some vouchers, Hart said. The authority has closed the waiting
list previously, she added, and may reopen it once it has been brought
up to date.

Burlington's Section 8 program is almost 10 times the size of
Brattleboro's, with 1,711 vouchers and 1,000 people on the waiting
list. It expanded dramatically in the late 1990s by aggressively
pursuing what Dettman referred to as "boutique programs" for special
populations. Now, he said, his office is also purging its waiting list
and, with a turnover of 25 to 30 vouchers a month, he's hoping that no
one has to be forced to give up a subsidy.

With the funding formula change, he said, "we may have to reduce the
number of people we serve. If we're forced to cut back, we hope to do
it through attrition" — holding onto vouchers that are turned in
rather than giving them out to someone on the waiting list.

Bills in both the House and the Senate call for Section 8 funding well
above the administration's proposed $12 billion — and both ignore the
White House attempt to convert the program to a block grant. But some
observers believe neither bill may be sufficient to protect the
voucher program.

According to the independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,
the $13.5 billion House bill wouldn't cover the cost of existing
vouchers and would allow HUD broad discretion in distributing voucher
funds; the Senate bill contains enough money — $14.1 billion — and
redresses some of the problems with the funding formula, but still may
allow HUD too much freedom of action.

Leahy, a member of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the
subcommittee working on the Veterans Administration-HUD bill, noted
that Congress last year urged housing officials to do "everything in
their power to ensure that all vouchers were fully funded."

"Congress gave the HUD the resources they needed to fully fund all
vouchers under contract, and I would expect them to use those
resources," Leahy said in May, following the department's announcement
of cutbacks. "This is not the place to try and reap meager savings to
make up for a federal deficit caused by questionable tax cuts and
irresponsible fiscal policies."

Neither Dettman nor Hart, however, is confident that Congress will be
able to hold the line against the White House push for drastic
reductions in the voucher program.

"I think the next four years are going to be really tough," Dettman
said. "I think this administration will continue its efforts to
methodically reduce the program.

"What's striking about this administration is their complete
indifference in terms of the actions they take," he added. HUD's
"attitude has been, 'Deal with it' — especially this year."

Hart said that what she hears from HUD is all about budget cuts —
paying landlords less, making tenants pay more, or turning the program
over to a block grant, which advocates believe would make it easier to
cut later on.
"I'm not optimistic for the future," she said. "I like Section 8 a lot
— it's an extremely successful way to get rental assistance to
low-income people."

Posted November 19, 2004


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf: