Tag Archive | Grace Michienzi

Our farmers’ market is back!

Southeast Area Farmers’ Market, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through November at MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506. 

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First day of the 2018 market!                           Photo by Grace Michienzi

gmichienziLast Saturday, the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market held its first 2018 market. We got off to a good start! (Despite the competing clean-up event.) The Grand Rapids Fire Department was on hand sharing resources from its Residential Safety Program (RSP). And, area residents enjoyed a nice selection of local produce.

If you stopped by the market, you may have noticed a new face at the main table. Grace Michienzi is spending her summer as an intern with Our Kitchen Table and MSU Extension. Originally from West Michigan, she went to Hudsonville High School. She says that she is excited to be working in a community that she considers her home.

Grace is a junior at Michigan State University studying Social Relations and Policy with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Throughout her life, she has had a passion for social justice issues, but it was not until she went to college that she learned that she also has a passion for food and food justice.

“It all started with a research paper that I wrote about urban farming and its
history,” Grace says. “I began to learn about food movements within cities to address the social and environmental inequities.”

She also loves to learn about organic gardening and farming, food policy issues such as the Farm Bill, and environmental issues regarding food production. You may have read Grace’s very informative post about the Farm Bill on our website.

“Mostly, I want to learn about the connections between people and their
food, and in what ways food movements can be as successful as possible at serving the
communities and neighborhoods they are meant to serve,” she says. “I have already learned so much in my weeks as an intern so far, and I am looking forward to learning more!

Besides her studies, Grace loves to hike, be outdoors, garden, cook, and travel. She has an adorable dog named Fish who she love to spend time with outside. She adds,”I love that I will get to spend a lot of time outside at the South East Farmers Market this summer!”

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Comparing the Farm Bills’ Effects on Nutrition and Farmers Markets: House vs. Senate

 

GetStoredImageby Grace Michienzi,
OKT policy & communications intern

On May 18, The U.S. House of Representatives voted and failed to pass their version of the Farm Bill with a 198 to 213 vote, according to CNBC. House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested that he plans to reintroduce the bill after making negotiations on the Immigration debate in Congress, but it is unclear when the bill would be voted on again, according to the article.

According to NPR, one of the reasons that the bill failed was because of drastic changes to some of the programs that the bill supports. One of the most drastic changes is to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, a program that feeds over 40 million people in need. The changes would alter the criteria for eligible adults, mandating that any adult that receives funding must work or attend a job-training program for at least 20 hours per week or risk losing their eligibility. According to the USDA website, the SNAP rules already involve a work requirement. Adults aged 18 to 50 are limited to three months with three years of SNAP benefits unless they work or participate in a job-training program. However, the failed House version of the Farm Bill mandates that no able-bodied adult within this age range and without dependents would be able to receive benefits without meeting the work requirements, which amounts to about 7 million people, pushing those in between jobs or those who are unemployed out of the SNAP program.

Additionally, other nutritional support programs are at risk of losing funding if a new Farm Bill is not passed by the end of September. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, the 2014 Farm Law will expire at the end of September and if nothing replaces it, the law will revert back to “permanent law” from 1938 legislation. If this happens, extra programs that the law funds will be cut, including programs such as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Program, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Program is what currently funds half of the Double Up Food Bucks Program in Michigan, which allows SNAP recipients to “double” the amount of fruits and vegetables they buy at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. If a Farm Bill is not passed by September 30, these programs will all expire.

On the other hand, the Senate is focused on a much more bipartisan and less controversial bill that will likely be easier to pass by the September 30 deadline, according to Agri-Pulse. Although the official bill has not been released to the public yet, it is said to be much more moderate in its crafting. According to the article, Senate leaders including Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow have reached a deal that will be acted upon by the board panel by Wednesday. The current draft does not include any new eligibility exemptions regarding work hours like the House Bill does. In fact, most of the changes are minor and the bill is considered to be very similar to the 2014 bill, according to Ag-Web.

The Senate bill was crafted this way to get more votes in order to pass the bill by the September 30 deadline, which means that programs like Double Up Food Bucks may not lose their funding. According to an interview with KTIC Radio, Republican Senator Deb Fischer said that it does not make sense to bring up contentious debate about the Nutrition programs when they need to get the Farm Bill passed soon. According to the article, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate may appear to be working together to get this bipartisan legislation passed, but it remains unclear whether President Trump will sign or pass the legislation when and if it makes it to his office.

 

Sources:

 

Booker, Brakkton, and Dan Charles. “Republican Farm Bill Calls On Many SNAP

Recipients To Work Or Go To School.” National Public Radio, NPR, 12 Apr. 2018. Accessed 5 June 2018.

Brasher, Philip, and Spencer Chase. “Senate Ag leaders reach deal on farm bill.” Agri-Pulse,

Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Doeschot, Bryce. “(Video) Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Announce Farm Bill

Consideration.” KTIC Radio, Nebraska Rural Radio Association, 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Feldman, Ben. “What does the House Farm Bill ‘No’ Vote Mean for Farmers Market?.” Farmers

Market Coalition. Accessed 6 June 2018.

Herath, John. “Date Set for Senate Farm Bill Markup.” Ag-Web, Farm Journal Media, 7 June

  1. Accessed 8 June 2018.

Prumak, Jacob. “House fails to pass farm bill amid Republican rebellion over immigration.”

CNBC, CNBC LLC, 18 May 2018. Accessed 6 June 2018.

“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” United States Department of Agriculture

Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 26 Feb. 2018. Accessed 8 June 2018.