At last week’s community meeting, we did a review of the current status of the state’s FY2016 budget. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to contact both your state representative and senator to ask that they encourage the conference committee to support the Homes for Families recommendations. Please click here for additional information and for a phone script to guide you.
We were also fortunate to be joined by Allison Bovell of Children’s Health Watch and Juell Frazier, representing Witnesses to Hunger to discuss their ongoing work in partnership with the Witnesses to Hunger project of Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities.
Headquartered in Boston with 5 additional sites, Children’s Health Watch (CHW) is a group of pediatricians, researchers and policy experts committed to improving the health and development of young children by informing policies that seek to address and alleviate economic hardships. Their research helps both the public and elected officials to better understand the negative impacts that housing instability can have on a child’s development.
Witnesses to Hunger is a research and advocacy project partnering with mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty. The group provided cameras to women to document their experiences and turned the work into a photo exhibit to raise awareness on the issue of hunger. The gallery has been displayed in various cities and venues (check out Boston!), allowing for families to tell their own stories, in their own ways, ultimately influencing the policies that impact them.
Juell shared her experience with Witnesses to Hunger and her fellow participants she affectionately refers to as her ‘sister witnesses.’ She recently travelled to Washington, DC to share her experience with officials and their staff and reflected on the empowering impact it has had on her. Juell also shared a book that Witnesses to Hunger put together, combining both pictures and quotes from families with direct recommendations for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.
Every five years Congress reviews the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act which regulates, among other important nutritional programs, the Women & Infants (WIC) program. Currently, income eligible children are able to access these critical nutritional resources until the age of 5. CHW and Witnesses to Hunger are advocating to increase the age threshold to 6 years of age. This would ensure children between the ages of 5 and 6 but who are not yet enrolled in school retain access to healthy foods needed for them to develop and thrive.
Recently, a steering committee was formed in Boston to continue to look at the issues impacting families living in poverty. Juell, along with her fellow ‘witness sisters’ will be working in the coming months to work to identify the issues that the group will be focused on and how they can lead efforts to impact policy. Homes for Families is honored to be part of this steering committee. Naturally, affordable housing development and access is of major concern to this group.
Thank you to both Allison and Juell for presenting at our meeting. As we continue our partnership with these amazing organizations, we will be sure to keep you posted.
We also encourage you to join us for our next community meeting on July 8 from 11 – 1 at 14 Beacon St. Stipends provided to families overcoming homelessness.