Up & Coming Weekly

March 07, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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4 UCW MARCH 8 - 14, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM STAFF PUBLISHER Bill Bowman Bill@upandcomingweekly.com OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Paulette Naylor accounting@upandcomingweekly.com MANAGING EDITOR April Olsen editor@upandcomingweekly.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Hannah Lee assistanteditor@upandcomingweekly. com ART DIRECTOR Courtney Sapp-Scott art@upandcomingweekly.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Isaiah Jones graphics@upandcomingweekly.com STAFF WRITERS Alyson Hansen Ashley Shirley Kathleen Ramsey Chayenne Burns Katrina Wilson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Algenon Cash, Margaret Dickson, Rep. Richard Hudson, Pitt Dickey, Jami McLaughlin, R. Elgin Zeiber, Carlos Bodden, Ashley Kelsey MARKETING ASSOCIATE Linda McAlister linda@upandcomingweekly.com DISTRIBUTION MANAGER/SALES ADMINISTRATOR Paulette Naylor COVER Design by Courtney Sapp-Scott Images courtesy United Way Up & Coming Weekly www.upandcomingweekly.com 208 Rowan St. P.O. Box 53461 Fayetteville, NC 28305 PHONE: 910-484-6200- FAX: 910-484-9218 Up & Coming Weekly is a "Quality of Life" publication with local features, news and information on what's happening in and around the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Published weekly on Wednesdays, Up & Coming Weekly welcomes manuscripts, photographs and artwork for publication consideration, but assumes no responsibility for them. We cannot accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or material. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to edit or reject copy submitted for publication. Up & Coming Weekly is free of charge and distributed at indoor and outdoor locations throughout Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Pope Army Airfield, Hope Mills and Spring Lake. Readers are limited to one copy per person. © 2020 by F&B Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertisements without permission is strictly prohibited. Various ads with art graphics designed with elements from: vecteezy.com and freepik.com. Food security is the primary binding agent that maintains order in society. We need food to survive, and people historically "rise up" when resources are threatened. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Ser- vice, 33.8 million American households experienced food insecurity in 2022 — 1 in 10 households. We've seen images of civil unrest across the globe when food prices jump and supplies tighten. e same recipe for disaster is slowly brewing in Amer- ica. Overall grocery prices are up 15% annually, while consumer staples like eggs have skyrocketed 138%. Low- to middle-income families don't have the discretionary income to absorb price shocks and often are left with unappealing choices — eat more unhealthy food or simply don't eat. Either decision comes with unin- tended consequences that can harm families and communities at-large. e price of fresh fruits and veg- etables has risen about 40% since 1980, but the price of processed foods has fallen by the same amount. Alarming rates of chronic conditions are nutrition related and correlate to food insecurity. More than 40% of U.S. adults and almost 20% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese, ac- cording to the CDC. Currently, six in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic condition, many of which are nutrition-related, and four in 10 have more than one, including heart disease, some cancers, stroke or diabetes. ese conditions are also costly, as evidenced by a 2019 study finding that unhealthy diets accounted for almost 20% ($50 billion) of annual U.S. health care costs from heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Limiting SNAP purchases to healthy options could go a long way to fixing this problem. e COVID-related increase in benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, is coming to an end March 1 in 32 states, including North Carolina. More than 900,000 North Carolin- ians will be affected by the change, and many families are expected to receive at least $95 less per month, according to the research and policy think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But some could see an even bigger drop. e average benefit per person per day will drop from $8.12 to $5.45. at means, for example, a family of four will go from receiving more than $970 a month to about $650. at's a $320 difference. In 2021, the total cost of the SNAP was around $113 billion. is is a signif- icant increase from the previous year, when the total cost of SNAP amounted to $79.1 billion. Fiscal hawks can rightfully argue a nation that incurs trillions in budget deficits and faces $31 trillion in debt cannot sustain funding for social pro- grams. It's a fair, but somewhat misguided debate — the food stamp program accounts for less than 2% of the $5.8 trillion budget. Only three options exist to balance taxing and spending — higher taxes, entitlement reform and stronger eco- nomic growth. None of those options would be easy or popular. As worried as I am about the debt and the inflation that it causes, I'm more worried about the immediate impact of cutting off food resources to hungry families. And the savings from making these cuts don't justify the risks and pain involved. Typically reauthorized about every five years, the most recent farm bill, the $428 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334), was signed into law in December 2018 and expires on Sept. 30, 2023. e 2023 Farm Bill is estimated to cost $1.295 trillion over 10 years, mak- ing it the first ever farm bill to exceed $1 trillion. e political debate will be fierce. But Congress should avoid utiliz- ing the opportunity to score political points against their opponents. Additionally, we need more faith groups to fill the gap. ere should be consensus across communities that hunger is a critical need to be univer- sally addressed. Government can support local non- profits by providing financial assistance for the purchase of fruits and vegeta- bles or a range of healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Lawmakers can also encourage healthy food consumption by prohib- iting junk food like soda, candy and other high-sugar offerings with SNAP. A 2017 New York Times article found that the No. 1 item purchased with SNAP was soda, making up 5% of all purchases. Providing safety-net food assistance should improve the health and well- being of those receiving the benefit, not make it worse. Editor's note: Algenon Cash is a nationally recognized speaker and the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm. Reach him at alc@whartonglad- den.com. PUBLISHER'S PEN With inf lation still sky high, now is not the time to cut food assistance to NC families by ALGENON CASH, Carolina Journal ALGENON CASH, Contributor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 According to the Second Harvest Food Bank, one in six people in Southeast North Carolina face hunger. One in four of these are children. Second Harvest provides assistance to families facing food insecurity in Cumberland, Bladen, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson and Sampson counties. For more info visit https:// hungercantwait.org/ or call 910-485-6923. (Photo courtesy Second Harvest Food Bank)

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