Many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school, but what happens when school lets out? The Summer Food Service Program helps fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
If you are flying within the U.S., you do not need to fill out any forms. There are forms that apply to international travel.
Each individual traveling to the U.S. from another country must complete a customs declaration form. If you’re traveling with immediate family members, then you only need to fill out one form per family.
After your flight lands in the U.S., you will present the form(s) and be inspected by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. They prevent terrorists, people with outstanding criminal warrants, narcotics, agricultural pests, and smuggled goods from entering the United States.
As with the rest of your family, it’s important to plan for your pet before, during and after a natural disaster. While making emergency plans for your family, make sure you know of the pet friendly hotels and shelters in your area, so that if a disaster does occur, you know which places will accept your pet.
You should have an emergency kit planned and ready to go for your family that also includes important things for your pet, like food, medications, veterinary records and other supplies that may not be available later.
If you are evacuated from your home, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests that you take your pets with you. Most pets cannot survive on their own if left behind, and if they do, they are often lost after you return to your home.
Making sure your pet has a secure tag with up-to-date information could help your pet be returned to you if you get separated later on.
American Beaches Receive Ratings on Cleanliness and Safety
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) rated 200 popular beaches across the United States on a 5 star scale. Criteria for the NRDC’s rating scale include testing the water weekly, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal unsafe bacteria levels, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach.
Beaches that achieved 5 stars had exceptionally low violation rates and strong testing and safety practices. Of the 200 beaches, only 13 were given the highest possible rating of 5 stars.
Learn about the ADA and Other Protections for People with Disabilities
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – landmark legislation that advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the nation.
However, the ADA is only one of many laws that ensure equal access for everyone. Other examples include the Assistive Technology Act, Fair Housing Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
More than 54 million people in the United States live with a disability of some kind, be it sensory, physical, intellectual, developmental, emotional or mental.
Disability.gov, the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide, offer hundreds of resources on protecting your civil rights.
As part of this effort, we ran a poll asking: What helps you most when money is tight? 5,352 of you responded:
Credit cards/loans 20%
Government assistance 15%
With 64 percent of you stating that savings, credit cards, and loans are the resources you turn to in tough times, we know we need to continue providing information on those topics.
Given that only 15 percent of you turn to government assistance in tough times, we want to make sure you know about benefits that could help you.
Government assistance comes in different forms—from unemployment checks and food assistance to credit counseling and medical treatment. The resources we’ve highlighted on our Help for Difficult Financial Times page are meant to guide you in finding such assistance. These are some of the most popular resources:
Find a Job – Find a resume builder, get employment assistance, and search for jobs.
Manage Your Debt – Learn about the steps you can take to get debt under control.
Although our six-week campaign to highlight Help for Difficult Financial Times has ended, we know that your struggles may continue. We will keep updating the tools and information we provide to help you get back on your feet.
While hundreds of Olympic athletes are representing America in the 2012 Olympics in London this summer, the White House is sponsoring a “Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day Meetup” all across America.
On Saturday, July 28th, the first day of the summer Olympics, communities across the country will participate in Olympic-inspired games and activities that promote the 2012 events as well as get people active. The Lets Move! campaign wants to help get Americans moving and having fun in honor of the Olympics kick off.
Find Answers to Your Questions About Dealing with Difficult Times
If you’re looking for answers or resources to help in times of need, the Ask program from USDA eXtension may be able to help.
The Ask program lets you submit a specific question and then find answers that could help. If you can’t find an answer in the extensive database of frequently asked questions, you can submit your question to an expert and receive an answer within 48 hours.
Experts are available to answer your questions on a variety of topics including:
If you’re sick of hearing an automated message when you pick up your phone, you’ll be happy to know the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on illegal robocalls.
A robocall happens any time you pick up your phone and hear a recording instead of a live person.
Illegal robocalls have exploded in the last several years because technology has made it easy for companies to use autodialers to place thousands of calls every minute. Oftentimes these calls are trying to scam you by offering phony credit card services, warranty protection plans and more.
It is illegal for a company to deliver an automated message trying to sell you something, unless the company has written permission from you to do so.
Calls from charities and political groups do not fall under that classification and are considered legal.
According to the FTC, if you get a robocall you should:
Hang Up. Do not press 1 or any other numbers to get off the list.
Take These Easy Steps Now to Avoid Tax Headaches Later
By Andrew Zumwalt, Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Most of the time we think about taxes only at the end of the year as we prepare to file last year’s taxes. By taking some time now, you can complete some of those tax to-do list action items without the stress.
Taxpayers have until April 15 of the following year to contribute to their Individual Retirement Arrangements, but if you have the financial stability to contribute now, it might make financial sense to do so. Not only do you avoid the rush, but your investments have more time to compound and grow.
Flex Spending Accounts
Flex spending accounts, offered by employers, allow employees to use pretax dollars to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses. However, any money left in these accounts at the end of the benefit period is forfeited (generally March 15 of the following year for a health FSA but may vary). This can encourage employees with positive FSA balances near the the end of the benefit period to schedule medical visits and bunch together expenses.
Instead of rushing to see the doctor at the end of the benefit period, consider making an appointment in the late summer or early fall. A medical checkup now will also allow you to better understand what health expenses you might face in the coming year and better plan for what amount you should have deducted for your FSA in the coming year.
Withholding and Life Events
If you find yourself always facing a balance due or always getting a refund when you file your taxes, you might want to change your withholding. If you didn’t make the changes immediately after you filed your return, take the time to make the changes now.
If you had a life event in the first half of the year, (birth, death, marriage, etc.) take some time in the second half to adjust your withholding so that you either do not have a large tax bill or a large tax refund. The IRS has an online calculator to help determine what your W-4 should show. If you’ve had a complicated January-June, you might want to meet with someone knowledgeable about taxes before making withholding changes.
To change your withholding allowances, submit a W-4 to your employer.
Get Help With Your Finances - Order Your Free Copy of the Consumer Action Handbook
If you’re feeling uncertain about your finances, the Consumer Action Handbook is the place to find answers to your questions about credit cards, bank accounts and managing debt. Learn to create a smart money management plan, get a handle on your finances, and successfully file a complaint with a company.
How to Protect Your Retirement Benefits If You Lose Your Job
By Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration
Business closings, downsizings and reductions in hours may lead you to wonder what happens to your retirement benefits if you lose your job? Saving for retirement through an employer’s plan is an important part of your future financial security. The good news is you have protections under Federal law.
The Right To Receive Information
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provides rules for those responsible for the management and oversight of your retirement plan. It also provides you with some rights and protections, including the right to receive information about your retirement plan.
When you leave your job, make sure you have a copy of your plan’s current summary plan description (SPD) and your individual benefit statement. If you don’t, request a copy.
The SPD tells you if and when you can collect your benefits or how to roll over your 401(k) account to a new employer’s plan or to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Your individual benefit statement lets you monitor your account balance or benefit.
What If Your Former Employer Goes Out of Business?
If your retirement savings remain in your former employer’s plan, your retirement funds generally should not be at risk even if a business closes. Employers must comply with Federal laws when establishing and running retirement plans, and the consequences of not prudently managing plan assets are serious.
Keep current on any changes the company makes, including changes of address, employer name, or mergers and give the plan any changes to your contact information.
If your benefits are in a traditional pension plan and your plan ends without enough money to pay the promised benefits, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will pay benefits up to a maximum guaranteed amount set by law.
Accessing Your Retirement Money
If you want to access your retirement money, review your SPD and individual benefit statement. Generally, if you are in a 401(k)–type defined contribution plan, your plan may provide for a lump sum distribution or a rollover of your retirement money to a new employer’s plan or an IRA when you leave the company.
If you are in a defined benefit pension plan, your benefits begin at retirement age and are less likely to be available earlier. Contact your plan administrator if you have questions about accessing your benefits.
Keep in mind unless you rollover your funds into another retirement account you may have to pay income taxes and a penalty for early withdrawal. Also check with your state unemployment office to see if it will impact your ability to receive unemployment compensation. Withdrawing retirement savings early means you will have less money for retirement.
The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) administers ERISA. EBSA has a number of publications about retirement benefit plans and the protections noted above available at www.dol.gov/ebsa. If you have questions about your retirement plan, contact EBSA at www.askebsa.dol.gov or call 1-866-444-3272.
A number of counties are currently being affected by drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has crop updates for farmers, as well as information about crop insurance, assistance for livestock losses, and emergency farm loans.
Find weather updates, tips and more resources to help you.
How do I find out how grant money has come into my state?
Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.
According to USASpending.gov, federal agencies spent 408.3 billion dollars on grants in fiscal year 2012. This money is transferred from the federal government to states for programs such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and local education agencies.
By Dr. Michael S. Gutter and Amanda Blanco, part of the USDA eXtension program
There are typical places to look for jobs like job websites or classified ads. The problem with these methods is that hundreds of people could apply to one job posting. It is very hard to stand out among hundreds of other applicants.
One alternative to job websites is networking. Networking allows you to connect with others who share your career interests. Your network could help you in the job search process if you are unemployed.
You can start to network by creating a professional online presence on a professional networking site. These sites allow you to formalize your network of colleagues, former colleagues, mentors, friends, family, and acquaintances so that you can learn more about opportunities. People you are connected to can endorse you or recommend you.
Do you submit a résumé or curriculum vitae?
Once you find a job that seems like it might be a good fit, you need to apply. Different job applications have different requirements, so make sure to read them carefully.
What is it?
A resume is a brief summary of education, experience, leadership skills, job skills and awards received
A curriculum vitae or CV is a detailed record of activities related to your career. This can include education, work experience, publications, courses taught etc.
How long is it?
A resume is typically 1 to 2 pages long.
A CV is a long as it needs to be. Those who are further along in their career will typically have longer CVs than those who are just getting started in their career.
What type of job is it for?
Resumes are used in various industries because they are shorter than CVs. Sometimes a potential employer may ask for a CV after they have seen your resume.
A CV is mostly used for academic jobs.
When do I update?
You should update your resume when you have a change in education, experience, leadership skills, job skills, and/or receive a reward.
A CV should be updated more frequently than a resume since it includes activities related to your career.
A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau probe into Capital One credit card marketing practices resulted in $140 million in consumer refunds. If you’re eligible, the money will automatically be distributed to you. Learn more.
By Colleen Tressler, Senior Project Manager, Federal Trade Commission
Looking for a job can be a full-time job. So when you do come across a promising prospect, you might be tempted to leap before you get a good look.
But job hunters need to know that scammers also are in the mix, posing as real employers. They may pretend to be a business looking to hire, or they may claim they can give you access to special job listings or interviews. Some even guarantee to place you in a job. What’s more, they often advertise in the same places real employers do.
Whatever their angle, job scammers are looking for the same thing — to convince you to send money — or your credit or debit card information — before you catch on to their schemes.
So how do you know when you’re dealing with a scam? The surest sign of a job scam is someone who wants you to pay for the promise of a job. That’s true even when they say they’ve got a job waiting and that the money is for certification or some other fee. If you have to pay, it’s not a job offer.
Some popular job scams to look out for include:
Government and Postal Job Scams: Scammers pretend to have access to special government job listings, or guarantee to get you a job with the postal service. But information about federal and postal job openings is free and available to everyone. Applying also is free. Find out more about federal jobs at usajobs.gov, and postal jobs at usps.com/employment.
Work-at-Home Schemes: Making a great income from home is an appealing prospect. But promises of guaranteed incomes and big returns for little work are the sign of a scam, whether it’s envelope stuffing, craft work, rebate processing, online search work, or medical billing. In reality, you’re left with useless starter kits or certifications, and broken promises.
Mystery Shopping Ads: Getting paid to shop and eat sounds hard to beat, but that email or ad for a mystery shopping job is likely a scam. Con artists send fake checks, convincing you to wire back money before the check bounces. When it does, you’re on the hook for the money you withdrew and sent.
If you’re not sure about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau, and find out what others are saying by entering the company’s or person’s name into a search engine with the word complaints.
Know What an Employer Looks At When You Apply for a Job
When you apply for a job, your potential employer will look at the application you complete as well as the resume you submit.
They can also request a background report, which includes information about your credit history, criminal record and driving record. This can only be done with your permission, however, if you refuse, you might not be hired.
So before you apply to a job, you should get a copy of your credit report so you know what any potential employer might see. If there’s incorrect information, you can correct it. You can also be ready to explain any negative information to your potential employer. You can get a free credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
Many employers will also look you up online. They can see any public information on social networking sites or other public information that comes up attached to your name. Make sure you search for yourself online so you see what potential employers might find. If you have inappropriate content posted on any of your social profiles, you might want to delete it or make it private.
How do I apply for Va hospital and health benifits
Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.
If you served in the active military, naval, or air service and were honorably discharged or released, you may qualify for VA health care benefits, including hospital services. Certain Reservists and National Guard Members may also qualify. Check your eligibility.
When it comes to having a healthy lifestyle, eating fruits and vegetables is just one piece of the puzzle. For a long-term healthy lifestyle, you’ll need to find a balance between good eating habits and physical activity.
That’s the message from the “Let’s move!” campaign, a nationwide initiative designed to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity, and promote a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.
Here are a few simple tips to help you and your children live a healthier life:
Eat five fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of essential vitamins, regardless of your age. Plus, they also help you manage your weight. Serve fruits and vegetables to children by mixing them with other foods —such as adding broccoli to rice, or vegetables to a sandwich. You can also blend them and make a nutritious, flavorful and 100% natural fruit and vegetable juice.
Prepare dishes that are low in fat and sugars. For a healthier diet, buy low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as cereals low in sugar. Also, try baking or grilling dishes like fish and poultry instead of frying them. If you do plan to fry food, use vegetable or olive oil instead of lard or butter.
Serve healthy snacks. It’s always a good idea to have healthy snacks around, especially if you have children. You can serve something simple, healthy, and delicious by cutting up some carrots, strawberries or apples. Tell your children to ask you for permission before eating a snack that has too much sugar. That way it will be easier for you to decide how many sugary treats they get to eat.
Keep an eye on portion sizes. Portion sizes can have an impact on how much you eat, even after you are full. You can avoid overeating at your kitchen table by serving smaller portions, particularly to children. If they want more, they can ask for a second portion. Also, avoid making them eat everything on the plate if they say they are full.
Turn the TV off and go outside. Televisions are not the only devices that promote sedentary lifestyles. These days, computers, tablets and smart phones offer round-the-clock entertainment. Put these devices away for a moment and go to the park, ride a bike, run or walk. Children should engage in moderate physical activities for 60 minutes a day.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle, particularly when it comes to children. A recent study found that a child is 9 percent less likely to be overweight or obese for every additional hour of sleep he or she gets each night. Children who are five years or younger need 11 hours of sleep per day; children between 5 and 10 need 10 hours per day; and children older than 10 need nine hours of sleep.
Financial struggles can put a strain on your mental health. Stress about job security, paying the bills, putting food on the table, and making ends meet for your family can build over time to unhealthy levels.
This stress can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more.
If you notice signs of increasing stress, like excessive fatigue, apathy or increased irritability, you can take steps to manage your stress levels.
Try to keep things in perspective and recognize the good things you have going on in your life.
Participate in physical activity to blow off steam and release extra stress.
Develop new skills that could help you land a new job.
However, if you or someone you know seems desperate and may be considering suicide or other forms of self harm, seek help immediately by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The government also collects data on healthcare facilities around the country. You can use this information to learn about and compare the quality of care in the facilities near you. You’ll find information about emergency department wait times, surgical outcomes, patient safety measures, health inspections, and staffing at your local facilities.
Protect Your Mental Health During Stressful Financial Times
By Christopher Marshall, Special Assistant to the Director, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA
Do you, or have you felt stressed about having enough money, getting or keeping a job, and the overall state of the economy? You’re not alone. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, money, work and the economy are the three top cited reasons for stress among Americans.
It is important to recognize that many life or social circumstances, such as financial insecurity, poverty, homelessness, can have an impact on your health and behavioral health. For example, research by economists has shown that people who have experienced long-term unemployment (longer than 25 weeks) are 3 times more likely than people who have been employed throughout the past year to experience mental health issues for the first time.
While each of us deal with stress differently, prolonged periods of stress can disrupt one’s physical and behavioral health. More specifically, it can substantially increase the risk of developing problems such as:
In order to protect your mental health, it is important to be aware of the signs that financial problems may be adversely affecting your emotional or mental well being:
Lack of Sleep/Constant Fatigue
Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications
Difficulty paying attention or staying focused
Apathy - not caring about things that are usually important to you
Not being able to function as well at work, school or home
While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to managing stress, there are some common coping techniques you can try:
Trying to keep things in perspective - recognize the good aspects of life and retain hope for the future.
Strengthening connections with family and friends who can provide important emotional support.
Engaging in activities such as physical exercise, sports or hobbies that can relieve stress and anxiety.
Developing new employment skills that can provide a practical and highly effective means of coping and directly address financial difficulties.
If these problems persist, you may need additional help. Try talking to your friends and family, healthcare provider, spiritual leader, school counselor or community health clinic. If you need help finding mental health or addiction services and resources in your area, visit the Mental Health Services Locator and the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.
Remember that your behavioral health is essential to your overall health and that financial difficulties can have an impact on your emotional well being. Maintaining and promoting your health and behavioral health is a good start to handling tough financial worries. To learn more about the impact of employment and the economy on behavioral health, please visit the ADS Center.