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Good morning, Advocate,

Can you take five minutes right now to email or call Statehouse leaders? They need to hear that $37 million -- or 20 percent of the $187 million 2011 surplus -- needs to be set aside for health, human service, and early care & education programs.

Food is the most basic human need.

Two weeks ago today, our partners at the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks highlighted the fact that Ohio’s Summer Nutrition Programs enroll less than 12 percent of children who get free and reduced-priced lunch during the regular school year.

“During the 2010-2011 school year, 44 percent of children throughout Ohio were enrolled in the free and reduced-priced meal program at school, making it evident that we must ensure these same number of children are receiving adequate food during the summer. The math is simple here. If the need is increasing, but the number of Summer Food Service Program sites does not, fewer children will get summer meals and more will go hungry. Ohio is failing to meet the needs of low-income children,” said OASHF Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. “This is a time for action, and we are calling on everyone in the state to play their part to increase summer meal participation.”

Karen Pozna of the Cleveland Foodbank shared stories from the Paper Plate Project with us last week. The plates give a voice to people struggling every day, allowing them to share stories about their daily lives, the trials they are facing, and the difficult choices they have to make.

Watch Karen read selections from these moving stories on YouTube.

Advocates for Ohio's Future needs your help to elevate these stories with our state lawmakers.

Will you take five minutes to call or email state leaders? Every call will make a difference. Tell them:

Proposed state budget cuts to emergency food assistance, behavioral health, long-term care, early care & education, developmental disabilities, and child welfare will have real-life consequences for vulnerable Ohioans, particularly for the nearly 1 in 3 Ohioans who live at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Economic projections for the next two years suggest that life won't be getting any easier for vulnerable Ohioans who have been struggling because of unemployment, wage stagnation, and high fuel and food prices. Please set aside $37 million (which is 20 percent of this year's surplus) to support critical programs for children, families, seniors, and people with disabilities in Ohio.

Thank you for taking time to advocate during this last push for a budget that shores up the safety net in Ohio. Please forward this email to give your friends and colleagues an opportunity to get involved.

To stay on our mailing list but opt out of daily messages during the Conference Committee debate, just click here.

Will Petrik, Outreach Director

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