Vermont delegation wins food stamp extension for 16,000

first_imgThe Vermont congressional delegation today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will postpone a pending reduction in food stamp benefits for 16,000 Vermonters for at least three months.  Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) pledged to continue to fight for a long-term solution to this problem.Sanders authored a letter signed by Leahy and 13 other senators asking Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack to reconsider his department’s plan cut to nutrition assistance benefits under Vermont’s ‘3SquaresVT’ program.  Welch strongly supported a similar letter from members of the U.S. House of Representatives.Last month, the USDA announced that on Oct. 1 the State of Vermont would be required to implement a cut of as much 25 percent the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits received by 16,000 Vermont families.  The department’s decision was based on declining home utility costs which factor into the food stamp benefits formula.  Around the country, at least 2 million people would also have seen a reduction in their food stamp benefit.The senators wrote that a decision to allow food stamp benefits to fall would ‘greatly reduce the nutrition assistance benefits that many of our constituents rely on to feed their families during this continued time of economic distress.  In addition, we are worried that the failure to extend this waiver will disproportionately impact the elderly and persons with disabilities.’  Rep. Welch echoed those sentiments, writing that families should not be ‘subjected to these reductions in SNAP benefits as they attempt to make it through these difficult economic times.’In August 2009, the Department of Agriculture issued a waiver that allowed states to use the 2008 utility allowance formula for 2009, which would have prevented a drastic cut in nutrition assistance for millions of families around the country. Seventeen states, including Vermont, took advantage of this waiver, which was set to expire on October 1, 2010.  Angela Smith-Dieng, senior nutrition and policy specialist for the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, said ‘This benefit cut would have hit Vermonters very hard, especially seniors and people with disabilities, at a time when budgets are already stretched thin.  A $30 to $40 cut could mean the loss of a week’s worth of food for a low-income household, significantly increasing the risk of hunger and poor health.  We are very grateful to Vermont’s congressional delegation for its leadership in preventing this cut from hurting some of our most vulnerable citizens in Vermont and throughout New England during these difficult economic times.’Source: WASHINGTON, October 4 ‘ Vermont congressional delegationlast_img read more

Wilson: Syracuse needs to clean up penalty problem before it comes back to bite

first_img Published on November 11, 2013 at 12:13 am Facebook Twitter Google+ COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland’s offense is bad. Really bad. Maybe Syracuse’s defense is really good, too, but without either starting wide receiver or either starting tackle, the Terrapins could only move the ball when the Orange was moving it for them.It took a Lewellyn Coker kick-catch interference, Julian Whigham pass interference and Robert Welsh facemask to bring UMD into field-goal range and its only three points of the day.“We shoot ourselves in the foot a lot with penalties,” quarterback Terrel Hunt said.Syracuse committed 12 penalties for 115 yards, or 25 fewer than it passed for. Maryland committed just two illegal formation penalties for 10. They only cost SU (5-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast) those three points at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday in a 20-3 win over Maryland (5-4, 1-4), but for a team with solid defense and subpar offense, penalties will eventually come back to bite Syracuse.SU is the sixth most penalized team in the nation this year with 74 penalties for 619 yards. That’s a whole bunch of uncontrolled controllables.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn Saturday, self-inflicted wounds singlehandedly ended the Orange’s impressive 113:22 shutout streak.Riley Dixon punted away in the third quarter and Coker set up too close to the Terps’ return man. Fifteen yards. Kick-catch interference.On the very next play, quarterback C.J. Brown lofted a pass down the right sideline to wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Whigham leapt backward and appeared to haul in an interception, but a flag came in. Fifteen yards. Pass interference.Without completing a single pass, Maryland moved the ball 30 yards.“Sometimes you get away with those things,” defensive backs coach Fred Reed said, “but on that one it was pretty clear that it was (pass interference).”Two plays later it was Welsh’s turn. He reached in to make a tackle on a second-down play. Flags flew. Fifteen yards. Facemask.Penalties have been a persistent problem for SU this season.For a hard-nosed nosed squad like the one that head coach Scott Shafer envisions, it’s a glaring concern. The Orange has been quick to buy in to Shafer and adopt his mentality and mannerisms, but the penalty situation is still a major work in progress.“Penalties get us upset,” linebacker Marquis Spruill said with a smile, “so we just pin our ears back, get on the ball and get ready to play.”Some of it has to do with all the overturn, especially on offense. SU has a new head coach and offensive coordinator. Syracuse has been through a quarterback change, has Ashton Broyld learning a new position and Brisly Estime’s role is growing.In a 13-0 win over Wake Forest a week ago, it led to a pair of illegal substitution penalties from Broyld. On Saturday, he committed a false start on the third play of the game. As a team, the Orange took four pre-snap penalties on the day.The penalties won’t hurt them against Florida State — Jameis Winston will do enough of that on his own — but Syracuse will, in all likelihood, need to win one of its last two games against comparable foes to qualify for a bowl game. One hundred-plus yards of penalties won’t help.During the Terrapins’ lone scoring drive, Syracuse piled up half that total. Three 15-yarders and an offside near the end of the drive gave Maryland its only points of the day. The Terps’ offense couldn’t do anything else, though, and Syracuse survived again.“Unfortunately, we haven’t done a good enough job taking care of the penalties, but it’s a great victory,” Shafer said. “Nothing like fixing something after a win.”David Wilson is the sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DBWilson2. Commentslast_img read more