SNAP Judgment: Is Government Program Hazardous To Health? 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 3/12/2014 Categories: Head Start Low income & poor families Poverty

By , WGBH-TV March 11, 2014

The idea behind the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is simple: Poor people don’t have enough money to eat well, so the government gives them vouchers to buy more food.

Traditionally, SNAP’s critics have argued that it breeds dependency. But new research suggests it may actually be hazardous to your health.

...To be clear, Drew said he has no problem teaching low-income individuals how to eat healthy. ABCD does this every day in its citywide Head Start program — and Drew says it’s paying off, with obesity rates among ABCD’s Head Start participants dropping 40 percent in just a few years.

Watch the Video.

West End Pantry Is Looking at Changes 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/24/2014 Categories: Head Start Low income & poor families sequestration



January 24, 2014

West End Pantry Is Looking at Changes

by Eddie Small, Courant News Writer

The recent $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama has reversed some of the nation’s sequestration budget cuts, spurring optimism at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), the city’s antipoverty agency.

The ABCD, which runs the West End Food Pantry and offers services such as fuel assistance and the early childhood education program Head Start, had to cut back on about 100 staff members due to the sequester, according to President and CEO John Drew.  Although he did not know for sure how much restored funding and programming ABCD would see from the new federal budget, he was hopeful that the group would get something.

“I don’t want it to get lost down in Washington,” he said. “I want it to come back to where they took it.”

Lia Tota, director of the North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center, said possible adjustments are underway at the West End Food Pantry as well, which is attempting to change its hours of operation to get a permit from the Greater Boston Food Bank.

The pantry, located in the Boston Public Library’s (BPL) West End branch at 151 Cambridge Street, does not have a permit because the food bank says there are already too many food pantries open in the area. This means it cannot get supplies from the food bank and instead relies on shopping at different supermarkets, generally a more expensive option.

“We could, of course, save a lot of money if we went shopping at the food bank, and we would be able to replenish the food more easily and more readily,” Tota said. “So it would be good for the community.”

About 120 people come to the food pantry each month, according to Tota. In June, Helen Bender of BPL’s West End Branch wrote in an email that donations for the pantry were “desperately needed.”

The Greater Boston Food Bank did not respond to requests for comment.  

In order to get a permit from the food bank, the West End Food Pantry will have to change its hours to include either a weekend or an evening to differentiate itself from other neighboring pantries. Its current hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 am until 1:30 pm, but it is looking into switching one of those days and times to Thursday nights or Saturday in the late morning or early afternoon, which could help benefit the working poor. Such changes would have to be cleared with the library.

Tota did not know what the timeline for this process would look like.  “We’re just in the process of applying, and we’ll see,” she said.

Head of Mattapan Family Service Center to leave post 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/2/2014 Categories: ABCD Head Start


Milly Arbaje-Thomas speaking at the Parker Hill center in 2011.

Posted by Patrick Rosso, Boston.com,  December 31, 2013

Milly Arbaje-Thomas, director of the Mattapan Family Service Center, will be stepping down to spend more time with her family, Boston.com has learned.

In addition to leading the River Street center, which is overseen by Action for Boston Community Development, Arbaje-Thomas also oversees ABCD’s Parker Hill/Fenway Center, its Boston Hispanic Center, and its Jamaica Plain Area Planning Action Council.

Read more.


Kids get a kick from Payless giveaway 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 12/23/2013 Categories: ABCD Holiday Toy Drive Head Start Low income & poor families

PRINCESS: Lasaysha Long, 4, finds a sweet pair of boots for the winter at Payless ShoeSource holiday shopping event yesterday.

By Colneth Smiley Jr. Saturday, December 21, 2013

Children from three Dorchester Head Start programs took an early step into the holidays yesterday as Payless ShoeSource gave them free footwear through Action for Boston Community Development’s “Shoes for the Soul” holiday shopping event.


The Value of Head Start 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 11/4/2013 Categories: ABCD Head Start

New York Times Letters: Published: November 3, 2013

To the Editor:  The inclination of several national columnists, including Nicholas D. Kristof, to fault the Head Start program based on possibly flawed research that says its educational benefits fade by second grade is doing a terrible disservice to the country’s longtime best investment in early education for poor children and families.

Reliable studies have found resoundingly favorable long-term effects on grade repetition, special education and high school graduation rates for Head Start children, as well as a host of economic, health and social benefits.​ Read more.

Bay State kids are paying for GOP budget chaos 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 10/10/2013 Categories: Government Shutdown Head Start LiHEAP

Nathan Proctor, Blue Mass Group   |   Wed, Oct 9, 2013 12:36 PM EST

Yesterday, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) held a rally to highlight the devastating impact the shutdown is having to people, especially the poor. Among the many troubling and outrageous pieces of fallout from the GOP shutdown — from the 20,000 people who rent assistance is drying up to a WWII veteran who was on Normandy beach and talked about losing heating assistance — are the impacts on young children.

This 87-year-old Wold War II vet thinks "John Boehner is being a baby."

This 87-year-old World War II vet thinks “John Boehner is being a baby.”

First, the sequester’s deep cuts hit programs across the country, and it became clear that one of the biggest casualties of that terrible piece of lawmaking was Head Start, a program which provides early education to disadvantaged kids. Here in Massachusetts, 2,015 fewer children will be served by Head Start from the first round of sequester cuts (57,000 nationally). And because sequestration ticks up, those cuts are set to get worse.  Read more.

Fuel aid in Mass. halted by shutdown 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 10/9/2013 Categories: ABCD Government Shutdown Head Start LiHEAP

Fuel aid in Mass. halted by shutdown

By Erin Ailworth GLOBE STAFF   OCTOBER 09, 2013

John MacPherson of Dorchester, a World War II veteran, gets $941 a month in Social Security benefits and has received heating assistance for years. He said he would freeze without it.


John MacPherson of Dorchester, a World War II veteran, gets $941 a month in Social Security benefits and has received heating assistance for years. He said he would freeze without it.  The US government’s shutdown is cutting off federal fuel assistance to tens of thousands of poor and elderly Massachusetts residents just as the heating season gets underway.

With billions of dollars for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, tied up in the budget dispute in Washington, at least one of the 20 agencies in Massachusetts that administer the fuel assistance here has shuttered the program and laid off workers. Other agencies are approaching that point.

At this time of year, Action for Boston Community Development Inc., would normally use the coming federal funds to help people with past-due bills get their heat restored or keep it from getting turned off before the onset of cold weather. ABCD helps funnel heating aid to about 20,000 needy households in Boston, Brookline, and Newton.

Usually, the promise of federal funds to help pay bills allows the agency to negotiate a settlement with utilities that keeps the heat on, said John Drew, ABCD’s president. But, he said, “we can’t do that because we have nothing to negotiate with.”

Just more than $3 billion was allocated nationally to the federal heating assistance program last year. The poorest households in Massachusetts qualified for up to $1,125 in aid.

The government shutdown forced the North Shore Community Action Programs in Peabody late last week to lay off six workers and suspend its heating assistance program, which typically serves about 4,000 households.

“We sat down and did the math and realized, ‘Wow, we can’t keep operating,’ ” said Laura MacNeil, executive director, who worries what will happen when the weather starts to cool. “The first cold day, our waiting room is [usually] packed with people who need help.”

The Energy Department forecasts that heating costs for natural gas and electric customers will increase this winter as those fuel prices rise. Residents in the Northeast who heat with gas are expected to pay $1,045 on average over the winter, about 18 percent more than they did last year, according to the forecast released Tuesday. Those who heat with electricity will pay about 4 percent more, or $1,083 on average.



Heating oil customers are expected to see bills decrease slightly from last winter because of lower crude prices. But the fuel is typically the most expensive option and Northeastern customers are projected to pay an average of $2,046 this season.

The threat of high heating bills helped spur community leaders to gather Tuesday at ABCD’s Tremont Street offices, where they called on Congress to end the budget deadlock and ensure funding for LIHEAP and other social programs.

Dorchester resident John MacPherson, a World War II veteran who receives $941 a month in Social Security benefits, has received heating assistance for several years, but keeps his thermostat on a low setting and eats lots of noodles to help stretch his budget.

“If I don’t get any help from the government I’m going to freeze, I can tell you that,” MacPherson told the crowd of about 60 gathered at ABCD.

Joe Diamond, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Action, an umbrella organization for nonprofit agencies that administer heating assistance and other programs, said the group has asked the state to provide $20 million in heating assistance to supplement the federal program, but the additional funding has not been approved by the Legislature.

It the federal shutdown continues and state help doesn’t come soon, Diamond said, “more and more of our agencies that provide services will have to limit services or stop them completely.”

Aaron Gornstein, the state’s undersecretary for Housing and Community Development, said figuring out how to fund heating assistance and other programs affected by the shutdown is a “major concern of ours.”

Paola Garcia, a mother at Action for Boston Community Development’s Head Start program, spoke about how the US government shutdown is affecting low-income people.


Paola Garcia, a mother at Action for Boston Community Development’s Head Start program, spoke about how the US government shutdown is affecting low-income people.

“I know the governor is looking at all options,“ he said, “but no decisions have been made.”

Some local utilities are also considering how they might help.

“If there are any special circumstances this year resulting from the government shutdown, we’re available to discuss possible solutions with the agencies,” said Caroline Pretyman, a spokeswoman for NStar, which is owned by Northeast Utilities of Boston and Hartford.

Still, those who need heating assistance, like Joseph D’Ambrosia, are worried. The 90-year-old retired sneaker maker gets $704 in Social Security each month and says he’ll have to cut back on groceries to afford his winter heating bills if the government shutdown doesn’t end soon.

“It’s a tough situation,” D’Ambrosia said. “The more it’s shut down, the more people who are going to suffer, people who really depend on that money.”

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.

Western Massachusetts social service agencies face uncertainty as federal funds dry up 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 10/8/2013 Categories: ABCD Fuel Assistance Government Shutdown Head Start

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican October 07, 2013

A Head Start program serving low-income children in Western Massachusetts was supposed to get its annual funding from the federal government on Oct. 1.

Because of the government shutdown, due to a congressional dispute over funding for President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, that money never came.

Read more.

Bank helps Allston, Brighton kids get backpacks 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 9/23/2013 Categories: ABCD Head Start Low income & poor families Poverty
Wicked Local Posted Sep 22, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
Citizens Bank is helping 6,600 students start the school year with new backpacks filled with school supplies through its Gear for Grades program. More than 6,600 pencils, pens, folders, notebooks, glue sticks and index cards were donated by the public in all 252 branches across Massachusetts. Gear for Grades was organized in partnership with Cradles to Crayons.

Read more.


Spending cuts taking hard toll on Head Start 

6/10/2013 Categories: ABCD Head Start sequestration

By Akilah Johnson |  GLOBE STAFF     JUNE 10, 2013

When the school year resumes this fall, at least 1,359 Massachusetts children — 259 more than earlier estimated — will probably not be in Head Start classrooms because of automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts.

The cuts, the legacy of so-called sequestration in Washington, will have a bigger impact than the federal government originally estimated, with slots for the preschoolers disappearing statewide, classrooms closing, jobs lost, and the school year ending early in some communities, officials say.

Read the article

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