Resource Library

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The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.


Low-income immigrant families continue to avoid safety net programs in 2020 despite severe pandemic-related impacts

May 26, 2021 – FamiliesCOVID-19, Food Security, Racial Equity

The Urban Institute conducted their Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey in December 2020 to evaluate the economic impact of the pandemic on lowincome families with different citizenship statuses. They split their sample into three categories: adults in families with naturalized citizens, adults in families with green card holders, and adults in families with nonpermanent residents. The findings revealed many low-income immigrant families reported loss of employment, food insecurity, and difficulty paying expenses. More than half were worried about affording their basic needs for the month. Yet amid this hardship, more than 25 percent of families did not seek government benefits for fear that it would jeopardize their immigration status or that they would be ineligible under the “public charge” rule. To address this disparity, the Urban Institute recommends that federal, state, and local organizations clarify communication around the public charge rule and other eligibility requirements, and that agencies and policymakers address administrate and logistical barriers to accessing benefits (e.g., language barriers). #covid-19 #racialequity #foodsecurity

American Rescue Plan Act enhances food assistance in response to high food hardship

March 29, 2021 – FamiliesCOVID-19, Food Security, Maine

A new report authored by prominent food scholars details the investments and expansions to food assistance programs included in the American Rescue Plan Act. Some of the major components include allowing states to continue the Pandemic-EBT program over the summer, extending the SNAP benefit increase, increased funding to states for the administrative costs of higher SNAP demand, investment in improving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and targeted support for Puerto Rico and select U.S. territories. The temporary 15 percent SNAP maximum benefit increase, which was set to end June 30, has been extended through September 2021. This extension will impact an estimated 154,000 SNAP participants in Maine, and Maine will receive an additional $3.9 million for addressing increased SNAP state administrative expenses for fiscal years 2021-2023. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #Maine

Tracking the COVID-19 Recession’s Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships

March 29, 2021 – General – COVID-19, Economy, Education, Food Security, Housing, Racial Equity

Joblessness remains high and millions report that their households did not get enough to eat or are not caught up on rent payments. CBPP has been able to track the extent of this hardship thanks to nearly real-time data from several sources on the unfolding economic crisis. The impacts of the pandemic and the economic fallout have been widespread, but are particularly prevalent among Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households. These disproportionate impacts reflect harsh, longstanding inequities — often stemming from structural racism — in education, employment, housing, and health care that the current crisis is exacerbating. The American Rescue Plan Act, is projected to dramatically begin reducing poverty and narrowing disparities by race. Any reduction in hardship, particularly among children, would be a hopeful step for the country. Households with children face especially high hardship rates and considerable evidence suggests that reducing childhood hardship and poverty would yield improvements in education and health, higher productivity and earnings, less incarceration, and other lasting benefits to children and society. #covid-19 #economy #housing #foodsecurity #racialequity #edcuation

Transitioning to EBT cards was associated with an increase in WIC participation

March 29, 2021 – FamiliesFood Security

After a 2010 congressional mandate, states began transitioning from a paper voucher system to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). An article in JAMA Pediatrics used administrative data from 2014-2019 to compare states that had and had not already transferred to WIC EBT and found that WIC participation increased by almost 8 percent in states that had transitioned to EBT cards compared to those that had not. EBT cards are more convenient than paper vouchers and are also less stigmatizing. #foodsecurity

Charitable Food Use Increased Nearly 50 Percent from 2019 to 2020

March 16, 2021 – General – COVID-19, Food Security, Racial Equity

In this brief, Urban Institute uses data from the December 2020 round of the Urban Institute’s Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey (WBNS), a nationally representative survey of more than 7,500 adults ages 18 to 64, to examine charitable food use (defined as the use of free groceries or free meals) this past year compared with use in 2019 as well as how use of assistance in 2020 varies across demographic groups. Findings include adults’ reported household use of charitable food in the past 12 months grew almost 50 percent between December 2019 and December 2020 and adults who identify as Black or Hispanic/Latinx were almost three times more likely than white adults to report accessing charitable food during 2020. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #racialequity

How states can use new Pandemic Emergency Assistance funds to support low-income families

March 11, 2021 – FamiliesCOVID-19, Food Security

The American Rescue Plan Act designated $1 billion for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through a Pandemic Emergency Assistance fund. States will have some flexibility on how they use Pandemic Emergency Assistance funds, as long as the funding is used for non-recurrent benefits for no more than four months. In particular, this means that states cannot use these funds for regular monthly TANF benefits. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities policy expert details four ways that states could use these funds to support low-income families. Perhaps most straightforward, states could provide a one-time extra cash payment to TANF families. The other three strategies intend to reach families who are not currently connected to TANF, including a one-time cash payment to low-income SNAP households with children; a new worker-relief fund for short-term payments to replace lost income; or funds for families ineligible for other programs but experiencing crises like rental arrears. #covid-19 #foodsecurity

Temporary SNAP extension will enhance access for college students

March 4, 2021 – Older YouthCOVID-19, Education, Food Security

Despite elevated rates of food insecurity among college students, strict eligibility criteria have meant low participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Typically, in order to be eligible for SNAP, students must attend college at least half time, work 20 or more hours per week, and meet income and other qualifications. However, as a part of its December pandemic relief efforts, Congress passed two temporary exemptions specific to college students enrolled at least half time. These temporarily extend SNAP eligibility to those who are also eligible for federal or state work-study and those with an Expected Family Contribution of $0 for the academic year, regardless of employment. State agencies, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations are working to inform students of these changes. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #education

Diaper need linked with food insecurity risk among WIC participants, but no program to address need

February 23, 2021 – FamiliesFood Security

A new study in Preventive Medicine Reports describes how authors surveyed Vermont WIC participants with questions on food insecurity risk and an understudied form of material hardship: diaper need. Authors found that half of participating households were at risk for food insecurity and one-third reported diaper need, with a strong association between the two measures. For families who experienced diaper need, strategies included borrowing, stretching supplies, buying on credit, or switching to other materials. The authors, of UVM and the Vermont Department of Health, emphasize that interventions to address diaper need are a health equity response for families with children. #foodsecurity

Youth Programs Can Improve Engagement by Reducing Barriers and Strengthening Relationships

February 18, 2021 – General – Childcare, Food Security

Child Trends reviewed the available literature on improving program engagement, but found little methodologically strong research that could guide programs with actionable suggestions. Moreover, the existing research is often conducted with program participants and misses the youth who are least likely to participate in programs. In the review of available literature, four basic themes emerged as field-sourced suggestions for improving program recruitment, retention, and engagement. 1) To improve recruitment and participation, programs should identify and address barriers to program attendance, such as transportation and its costs, child care, food, and scheduling issues. 2) Programs can use strategic financial incentives to improve recruitment and retention, especially for young adults. 3) Involving recruiters from the community that is being recruited can improve recruitment, as can drawing upon existing relationships and connections. 4) Making programs interesting, fun, and enjoyable for young people can improve engagement with afterschool programs. The recent literature also consistently stresses the importance of positive, respectful, and supportive relationships between youth and staff for retaining young people and promoting active program engagement. #childcare #foodsecurity

More promising evidence for universal free school meals

February 11, 2021 – General – Education, Food Security

New research from Brookings uses administrative data from state departments of education to examine the effectiveness of free school meals for all students on school performance. With the uneven rollout of the Community Eligibility Provision between districts (whereby communities with high shares of free and reduced-price eligible students could eliminate applications and uniformly serve all students), the author was able to track changes in meal participation and student outcomes over time. She found that more students participate in school meals when meals are free, that free meals are linked with small improvements in math performance (greater increases among younger students and Hispanic students) and that schoolwide free meals are linked with lower numbers of suspensions among white male elementary students. #education #foodsecurity

Schoolwide free-meal programs fuel better classroom outcomes for students

February 11, 2021 – General – COVID-19, Education, Food Security

Even before the pandemic brought food insecurity to alarming levels, hunger and insufficient nutritional access were acute concerns for many families. In 2019, nearly 14% of families with children experienced food insecurity. Previous work has shown that greater nutritional assistance through programs like SNAP and the school meals program can reduce food insecurity and improve nutritional intake. Yet, prior work on how free school meals affect student performance has reached mixed conclusions. Brookings describes some new findings about the impact of free meals on students, using recent administrative changes that expanded schoolwide programs. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #education

Immigrant Families Continued Avoiding the Safety Net during the COVID-19 Crisis

February 1, 2021 – General – COVID-19, Food Security, Housing, Racial Equity

In its first days in office, the Biden administration has already moved to reverse many of the Trump administration’s immigration policies that created a climate of fear and insecurity for many immigrant families. The prior administration’s changes to the “public charge” rule intensified immigrant families’ reluctance to participate in public benefit programs and supports that address basic health, nutrition, and housing needs. In this fact sheet, Urban Institute uses newly available data from their December 2020 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey to estimate chilling effects on public program participation because of green card concerns and because of broader immigration concerns among adults in immigrant families. The continued chilling effects experienced by immigrant families in 2020 are alarming in the context of the pandemic, during which people of color, many of whom are part of immigrant families, have disproportionately experienced economic and health hardships. #covid-19 #racialequity #foodsecurity #housing