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    Food Access

January 25, 2019

Beyond TSA: how is the shutdown impacting our national food security?

There have been a number of recent articles highlighting the air-travel safety issues caused by the government shutdown as more and more TSA agents are forced to call out from work. TSA agents are a visible reminder of the work that federal employees do, but some of the most damaging and dangerous impacts from the government shutdown are ones that are also out of sight of the average American. After all, many people pass through the airport, but not that many people regularly visit food processing facilities.

Food Safety


The FDA oversees 80 percent of our food supply and has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities (Washington Post) and canceled more than 50 high-risk inspections. (Washington Post) The FDA halted many inspections on January 9th, though the agency also resumed the most high-risk ones on January 15th, when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that furloughed food inspectors would be recalled to carry on their work without pay.

40% of FDA workers are furloughed

40 percent of the FDA’s employee’s remain furloughed and it is important to recognize that just because inspections may not be considered “high risk” does not mean they are “no risk” and should be left without inspectors. These decisions about what merits inspection or not are also being made without the informed consent of the American people, who trust that the food they are eating has been held to certain agreed upon standards and guidelines.

 

Risk of recalls has increased

Since the last extended federal shutdown in 2013, the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled.  A new report shows the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the United States for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, raising new concerns about food safety. A recent report by TIME highlighted that if shutdown-caused furloughs continue to impede FDA operations, “federal regulators might not even realize outbreaks are happening” in the first place.

Long term impacts

Workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry, have all continued to perform inspections without pay. It is important to recognize that much of the work inspectors do requires a high level of training and experience, and filling vacant positions with qualified employees can be challenging. Though the dedication shown by the inspectors working without pay because of their commitment to the common good is inspiring, the longer this shutdown continues, the more we are asking those workers to sacrifice. If a number of inspectors are forced to take other work in order to support their families, there is a potential for long-term consequences that will be felt beyond when the federal government resumes its responsibilities.

Grocery Sales and Food Access


This week, nearly 40 million low-income Americans received their February Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (or food stamps). Beyond the hardships endured by families who reply on SNAP, the program makes up a significant percentage of grocery sales and the harmful impact of the shutdown threatens not only families, but businesses up and down the supply chain.

SNAP represents a large portion of grocery sales

SNAP accounts for about 10 percent of the food that U.S. families buy for their homes.  Disruption to the SNAP program can cause reduced revenue for grocery stores, disruption to food supply chains, reduced hours and even job cuts for workers, and significant consequences for local economies.

Uncertainty triggering food shortages

Due to the federal government shutdown, the benefit’s release is occurring weeks earlier than scheduled. It is being reported that recipients may have to wait 40 days or longer before additional assistance is available causing state agencies to warn recipients to ration their benefits.

Shutdown induced uncertainty is anticipated to cause worried hardworking families using food stamps, to stock up on food for the weeks ahead and triggering food shortages at local supermarkets.

Out of touch leadership

In addition to damage done by the disruption of the SNAP program, many federal workers are wondering how to feed their families when they are not receiving a paycheck. This is especially troubling as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently expressed confusion over why federal employees would be turning to food banks instead of just taking out loans to get through the shutdown. Donald Trump reacted to the comments by suggested grocery stores need to “work along” with federal employees.

Food access is both a humanitarian issue and bad for business

When you consider that the potential loss of sales in the grocery industry is not only a threat to business, but represents every day Americans who cannot afford to eat right now, the depth of the crisis we are in as a country becomes clear. Grocery workers and grocery stores are united in calling for an end to the shutdown before further disruptions occur in our food stores and on our nation’s kitchen tables.

A partial federal government shutdown started on December 22, 2018 after President Donald Trump demanded a $5.7 billion appropriation for border wall construction be included in the federal budget, something Democrats refused to agree to. The impasse has resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Today, many Federal workers will miss their second paycheck in a row.

December 18, 2018

Giving Back to Our Communities

This year, the UFCW made an impact on thousands of lives by addressing hunger in America, helping to find a cure for blood cancers and standing with members of our union family in the aftermath of a tornado, a fire and other disasters.

Once again, the UFCW served as a national partner of National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive—the largest single-day food drive in the world. In the weeks leading up to Saturday, May 13, our union family helped collect millions of pounds of non-perishable food made by union members for local food banks. The UFCW has served as a national sponsor of the NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive for the past three years. In that time, the food drive has collected more than 150 million pounds of food.

The UFCW continued to expand on last year’s launch of the Labor Against Cancer initiative in the battle to end blood cancers. This initiative builds on our 30-year partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to fund and support some of the world’s best and brightest blood cancer researchers to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. To date, we have raised over $86 million to help fund research that has advanced treatments such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and smart drugs, which have become the standard for many other cancers.

This year, our union family also helped out members who were affected by Camp Fire in California and the tornado in Iowa. In addition, we donated time, resources and money to spread a little cheer during the holiday season.

Here are a few examples of the ways the UFCW gave back to communities across the country this year:

Standing With Our Union Family in California

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/12/03/standing-with-our-union-family-in-california/

UFCW Members Celebrate Thanksgiving by Giving Back to Their Communities

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/11/26/ufcw-members-celebrate-thanksgiving-by-giving-back-to-their-communities/

Help Make Labor Against Cancer Donation Drive a Success

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/09/10/help-make-labor-against-cancer-donation-drive-a-success/

UFCW United Latinos Empower Workers in Puerto Rico

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/08/27/united-latinos-empower-workers-in-puerto-rico/

Helping Tornado-Stricken Workers in Iowa

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/08/06/helping-tornado-stricken-workers-in-iowa/

UFCW Helps to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/05/14/ufcw-helps-to-stamp-out-hunger-in-communities-across-the-country/

Help Make This Year’s Stamp Out Hunger Campaign a Success

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/04/02/help-make-this-years-stamp-out-hunger-campaign-a-success/

Locals 1189 and 653 Hold Labor Against Cancer Event With Union Retail Grocers in Minnesota

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/03/19/locals-1189-and-653-hold-labor-against-cancer-event-with-union-retail-grocers-in-minneapolis/

Local 1149 and JBS Donate to Local Schools in Iowa

http://forlocals.ufcw.org/2018/01/22/local-1149-and-jbs-give-back-to-marshalltown-community-school-district/

 

November 20, 2018

UFCW members give back to their communities this Thanksgiving

In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, UFCW members from local unions around the country are coming together to help ensure everyone in their communities can enjoy a good holiday meal.

No one should have to struggle alone

UFCW/RWDSU Local 338 members volunteered at The INN in Hempstead. A not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization, The INN provides a broad variety of essential services to assist those challenged by hunger, homelessness and profound poverty and is the largest private social service agency of its kind on Long Island. The Hempstead soup kitchen was founded on the principle that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect – a belief shared by our union family.

Meanwhile, UFCW Local 328 members pooled their resources to make a difference in the lives of 220 families:

Getting in the Spirit

The hard-working men and women of UFCW Local 152 used a little good old-fashioned competitive spirit to collect 2,475 cans and other food items for their local area food banks. Each store/facility faced off to see who could collect the most canned goods. Top contributors will celebrate with a pizza party for their coworkers, but the real winners are area families who will be the beneficiaries of the collected items.

Cooked with Love

UFCW Local 342 members helped out with their annual Thanksgiving drive by not only donating goods, but also volunteering their time. On Saturday, November 17th, volunteers gathered at Mariner’s Temple Baptist church to make sure families in their community could have a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. Food for the drive was collected in bins at the local union offices leading up to the event.


Thank you to everyone who has helped out so far! If you have a story of how UFCW members are helping their communities this holiday season, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us at submissions@ufcw.org. 

May 14, 2018

UFCW Helps to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country

On May 12, the UFCW once again partnered with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to sponsor the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive—the largest single-day food drive in the world—and helped to collect millions of pounds of non-perishable food made by union members for local food banks. The UFCW has served as a national sponsor of the NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive for the past three years. In that time, the food drive has collected more than 150 million pounds of food.

Nationally, an estimated 42 million Americans, or one in six, struggle with food insecurity, which is defined as not knowing where the next meal is coming from. Over 13 million children are living in a food insecure household, and 5.4 million seniors currently face hunger in our country. The consequences of food insecurity are profound, and contribute to developmental problems for children, and depression among adults, especially seniors.

This food drive has been a way for our union family to address food insecurity in our country and show our friends, neighbors and community members that we care and they are not alone.

Here are a few images from this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive:

November 28, 2017

Giving back this holiday season

With the relationships UFCW members build with customers in our stores, we see first hand the difficult decisions many in our communities are forced to make every day in order to provide for their loved ones. That’s one reason we’re eager to help those in our communities in need — because no one should have to struggle alone, especially during the holiday season.

From hosting “giving trees” to organizing food drives, UFCW locals all across the country are kicking into high gear to help make the holidays a little brighter for the folks who could use a little extra support.

In the northeast, UFCW Local 1500 is doing a Toy Drive for the John Theissen Children’s Foundation. Since 1992, the foundation has collected over 920,000 new toys and have donated them to sick and underprivileged children in hospitals and child-care facilities.

Local 152 does an annual Teddy Bear Drive to collect stuffed animals for Santa to give away at the holiday dinner dance for ARC of Burlington County, which provides a variety of disability services including adult day care and in home supportive services.

Earlier this month, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338  delivered 200 turkeys donated by Local 338 members to several food pantries and charitable organizations throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County as part of the union’s annual “Turkey Drive.”

Local 338 members weren’t the only ones out making sure everyone could have a nice holiday feast. On the other side of the country, Local 1428 members in California held a turkey giveaway over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Are you a UFCW member with a story of how union members in your area are giving back? Drop us a line at submissions@ufcw.org or send us your story on our Facebook page and let us know how you are making a difference.

 

 

October 20, 2017

National Food Bank Week

This week is National Food Bank Week, a reminder to start thinking about the ways we can help others as the holiday season approaches. Food banks are, sadly, an all too necessary and common feature of life in the United States today, where low wages leave too many families forced to choose between paying bills and buying groceries.

Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. That means having enough money to buy food, but also having access to grocery stores and the time and resources to cook healthy meals. Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many. Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can leave anyone unsure of where the next meal is coming from.

We know better than anyone how hard UFCW members work to put food on the table for America’s families – and our union family also believes that no hardworking man or woman should struggle alone.

In 2016, in partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in their “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, UFCW members helped break a Guinness World Record—80 million pounds of food collected for the largest single day food drive in world history.

Thank you to all the volunteers and staff of the food banks who so many depend on. By working together, we know we can get rid of hunger in our communities.

 

May 18, 2017

UFCW Members, Locals, and Volunteers Collect Thousands of Pounds of Food for 25th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

In the weeks and days leading up to Saturday, May 13, the day of the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, UFCW members and locals volunteered at events and donated non-perishable food items to help America’s families put food on their tables.

Standing by our values and belief that no hard-working man or woman should struggle alone, UFCW members turned out in droves as part of our partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers on the day of the food drive as well, and helped collect thousands of pounds of food to help “stamp out hunger.”

Below is a photo collection of some of the many UFCW locals, members, and staff that played a role in the food drive this year:

April 13, 2017

Let’s top 2016’s world record for the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive!

We know better than anyone how hard UFCW members work to put food on the table for America’s families – and our union family also believes that no hardworking man or woman should struggle alone. Which is why we work hard for those in need, supporting our brothers and sisters at the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in their “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the food drive, and we want to make this a year for the history books. We hope to top last year’s Guinness World Record—80 million pounds of food collected for the largest single day food drive in world history. Together, we know we can do it, one bag at a time.

Here’s how:

  1. FILL A BAG with non-perishable food items. (See list below.)
  2. TAKE A PIC AND POST IT! Please Tweet it or put it on Facebook with the hashtag #StampOutHunger – and please tag @UFCW and @NALC.
  3. PUT OUT YOUR BAG on May 13th before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. 

That’s it! It’s so easy – please help us Stamp Out Hunger and put food on shelves in our local food banks.

What to Put in Your Bag 

Fill your UFCW-provided Stamp Out Hunger paper bag with*:

  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Pasta or spaghetti sauce
  • Rice
  • Canned fruits and veggies
  • Canned meals (soup, chili, pasta)
  • 100% juice
  • Peanut butter
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned protein (chicken, tuna, turkey)
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal

*NOTE: DO NOT put in frozen food, homemade food, expired food, or home canned items – or anything in glass containers.

March 3, 2017

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” This National Nutrition Month

Spring is just around and the corner, making March the perfect time of year to refocus on eating right, getting healthy, and chasing away those winter blues. We know how hard it can be to balance work with all the demands of your life and still stay focused on your nutrition, but eating healthier foods doesn’t have to be a chore. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing tips with you to make it easier to stay excited and engaged, and help get you on track to a better you and a better life.


Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Plan what you’re going to eat

Before you head for the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try checking what’s on sale in the produce and meat departments and look up recipes that feature those ingredients.

When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it.

Decide how much to make

Making a large batch by doubling a recipe is an easy way to save time in the kitchen and try to stretch your budget even further. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use on nights when you don’t have time to cook. Plus buying larger quantities of each ingredient can help you save money by taking advantage of cheaper bulk prices.

Shop for foods that are in season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods

Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

 

Make your own healthy snacks

Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to prepackaged items.

Cook more, eat out less

Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

November 1, 2016

Local 1208 and United Way Partner to Provide Hurricane Matthew Relief to Members and Their Families

local-1208-and-united-way-relief-effort

Last month, UFCW Local 1208 partnered with United Way of Robeson County to distribute much needed food to members across southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. The event, which was held at the Family Dollar in Lumberton, provided assistance to over 150 workers and their families. Members of UFCW Local 204, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and corporate partners like Kroger and Kellogg’s, also donated items to help Local 1208 members and their families.

Stephanie Franklin, a member of Local 1208 who has worked at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel for more than 11 years and lives in Lumberton, was one of the recipients.

“The whole area was affected by Hurricane Matthew,” Franklin said. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and this was one of the worst storms I’ve seen. My son is four years old, and we were stuck in our trailer for two days during the storm and we didn’t have enough food or water. Our trailer is up high, but the bathroom ceiling caved in a little bit and the water was still up to my waist.”

“The relief effort meant a lot and shows that Local 1208 is there for you. I appreciate everything they gave me and my son,” Franklin said. “We’re slowly getting back to normal.”

“Hurricane Matthew brought incredible hardship to our friends and neighbors, and it is times like these that we must come together to help those in need” said Ella Ellerbe, who has worked in packaging at Smithfield for ten years. “Our union family, working with our partners, are proud to help our local members and their families get the food assistance they need. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our members recover from this storm because no hard-working family should ever have to struggle alone.”

UFCW Local 1208 worked with Smithfield Foods to ensure that everyone at the plant in Tar Heel received a full week’s pay when Hurricane Matthew struck, regardless of actual time on the job. Members of Local 1208 have contributed more than $10,000 to United Way of Robeson County to help their community recover from Hurricane Matthew.