November 2017 Policy Update

Each month we collect stories about policies impacting your work and share action items for what you can do to make sure your voice is heard.

Sustainable Agriculture Priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, of which FoodCorps is a member, launched their 2018 Farm Bill platform at the end of October!  The platform calls for a range of positive changes that will create healthier communities with greater access to healthy, local food, as well as broader food system changes that will help the next generation of farmers and ranchers, sustain our natural resources, and more.

Of particular note for FoodCorps, the platform calls for reauthorizing and improving the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program, which would help us further our mission by increasing federal support for our work. This program is also included in the local foods bill that was released earlier in October.  We’ll be in touch for opportunities to mobilize support for these changes.

Help Make the AmeriCorps Education Award Tax-Free!

Each AmeriCorps member who completes a term of service earns a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to use toward higher education expenses or student loan debt—but right now, that education award is subject to federal taxation, which can create an unanticipated burden for those who have served.  

Legislation to exclude the AmeriCorps education award from taxation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress and has received bipartisan support.  Earlier this year, Representative John Lewis introduced H.R. 1602, the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Relief Act of 2017, and Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.  Both bills would restore one of the founding goals of AmeriCorps and would enable the AmeriCorps education award to continue to be a valuable and compelling incentive for young people to serve their country and communities.

But, with Congress now looking at making changed to tax law, there is now new opportunity to act on this.  This week, the House of Representatives is considering a tax bill, and Congressman John Lewis plans to introduce an amendment to make the education award tax-free. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and he will decide what happens with the Lewis amendment – so he needs to hear from you. Click here to call Congressman Brady in support of making the education award tax-free. Making the education award tax-free will allow AmeriCorps alumni to benefit from their entire education award, and could make a difference in the lives of those who have served.

Sign up for Action Alerts from FoodCorps!

We recently signed up with Phone2Action, an online platform for mobilizing our network on advocacy efforts.  You can sign up either by by texting “FoodCorps” to 52886 or by going here and scrolling down the page to the form under the “Get Action Alerts” heading. We’ll be using the system to send out timely actions on school nutrition, national service, healthy eating, farm-to-school, and more.