Editor’s note: Welcome to a new and special series of reports from NC Policy Watch we’re calling “Policy Prescriptions.” Researched and written by Samone Oates-Bullock, a talented Masters student in Public Administration at North Carolina Central University in Durham and a Fellow at the Raleigh-based A.J. Fletcher Foundation, Policy Prescriptions represents an effort to inject something into the North Carolina policy debate that’s been sorely lacking in recent years – a simple and straightforward list of progressive, forward-looking agenda items.
Some of the recommendations in Policy Prescriptions are large and will be familiar to those who follow state policy debates. Others will be less familiar and might even be described as addressing “niche” matters. All of them, however, have two important things in common: a) they reject the tired and discredited notion pushed by state legislative leaders in recent years that government is impotent to tackle the central problems that confront our state, and b) they champion genuine equality of opportunity and a stubborn rejection of North Carolina’s segregated past and its lingering legacy once and for all.
During this week and next, as state lawmakers return to Raleigh for the 2018 legislative session, look for a total of ten Policy Prescription reports – both on the main Policy Watch website and The Progressive Pulse blog. In addition to provoking debate in the immediate days ahead, it is our hope and expectation that these recommendations will plant seeds that may sprout for the fall campaign season and in future General Assemblies.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Policy Prescription #1 – Hungry for a change: Tackling food insecurity in North Carolina
Food insecurity or the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life remains a huge problem in today’s society. Currently, North Carolina has the tenth highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, with more than 1.5 million North Carolinians meeting this definition. Ultimately, of course, it will not be possible to solve the problem of food insecurity without addressing a host of underlying factors, including poverty, racial disparities, education, housing, and economic stability and development. That said, there are some obvious near-term steps that can and should be taken….
- Commit to making Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits more accessible and flexible SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. Currently, North Carolinians can apply for SNAP online through NC ePass, by mail, or in person at a local Social Service office. North Carolina should increase community outreach and provide additional enrollment sites in order to increase SNAP participation and fight food insecurity. Examples of additional enrollment sites include grocery stores, food banks or community SNAP drives.In addition to making SNAP benefits more accessible, North Carolina should improve the flexibility of how and where SNAP benefits can be used. Additional options for SNAP redemption include farmer’s markets, online grocers, home delivery services or Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. Providing SNAP beneficiaries with more flexibility further reduces barriers to access.