Love UT, Give UT is back again and this year we are partnering with Utahns Against Hunger to help raise funds for hunger advocacy, and we will match up to the first $1000 in donations. Bring in your donation receipts to Even Stevens when you donate to any participating nonprofit and get a FREE pink frosted sugar cookie.
Check out our Q&A with Melissa Jensen, J.D., UAH’s Food Stamp Outreach Coordinator to learn more about what this great nonprofit does.
Donate to Utahns Against Hunger at https://loveutgiveut.razoo.com/story/Utahnsagainsthunger
When was UAH founded and how did it get started?
Utahns Against Hunger began in 1979 as a project of Crossroads Urban Center, as the community recognized the need to improve access to federal nutrition programs. UAH first worked to implement WIC statewide, and for nearly 40 years has worked on the state and federal level to improve access to food by strengthening federal nutrition programs, as well as projects and initiatives to increase access to food.
What kind of advocacy does UAH do?
We do advocacy on all levels of government, and our main goals are to increase access to food and protect federal nutrition programs. So this can mean working with school districts about breakfast alternatives, so that more kids that qualify for free and reduced breakfast are eating it; going to community council meetings; meeting regularly with the Department of Workforce Services to let them know about program access concerns; being a member of the WIC Advisory Committee, building coalitions with other advocates for low-income issues; working with state legislatures to pass laws that improve safety net programs, or traveling to Washington D.C. to discuss the federal nutrition programs with our Senators and Representatives. We have also focused more this past year on community engagement and are holding advocacy events to teach citizens about anti-hunger issues and how they can advocate for them.
What would you say is the greatest need right now in the fight against hunger?
Protecting our federal nutrition programs. There is a deep concern that these programs could be cut or restructured in ways that will cause significant harm to the programs and the people who receive benefits from them. While we are working with state and federal legislators on this issue, it’s also one where citizens can have a big impact. We need people to talk to their elected officials about the importance of federal nutrition programs, and why they need to remain intact, to create public pressure to defend them.
What are some of your goals for the next few years?
Our main goals are to:
- Increase school breakfast participation in high-needs schools
- Increase statewide food stamp participation
- Gain a better understanding of the local food needs and demand for emergency food/federal nutrition programs regionally across the state
- Support a farm bill that protects and strengthens federal nutrition programs
How can the community get involved?
Advocacy has never been cooler or easier! Contact your local, state, and federal elected officials about programs that help low-income Utahns. Make local officials aware of income inequality, food deserts, and other access issues in their neighborhoods. Tell state officials that you support a living wage bill, increased food stamp benefits for seniors, and breakfast after the bell. And make it clear to our federal delegation that federal nutrition programs are necessary for a healthy state, and voting to cut or block grant these programs is a vote for hunger. We have a thriving state with one of the healthiest economies, and yet our hunger rate is about on par with the national average. Our officials need to know that hunger in Utah is unacceptable.