As I write this, we are less than 3 days away from dramatic spending cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly 48 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits, and every one of them will see a decrease in monthly benefits beginning November 1st.
Dottie Rosenbaum, writing for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) Off the Charts blog, puts the real life cost into perspective.
A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014…That equals about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”
Of course, the potential for further cuts does not end at the first of November. The much debated Farm Bill is still being considered (more…)
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I last blogged about the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in September as part of Hunger Action Month. At the time, local restaurants were helping the food bank raise money for their Food for Kids program. Now, the food bank is sponsoring a movie screening to raise awareness about American’s underfed families. The screening will feature a new documentary called A Place at the Table. The film, brought to us by the people responsible for Food, Inc. (2006), combines the stories of real people with commentary from experts on hunger and nutrition. The film’s creators, as well as groups around the country, are hoping the film will spark a nationwide conversation about how to end hunger for nearly 50 million Americans.
Starting an honest conversation is important, because there is an ongoing problem with misconceptions and misinformation when it comes to hunger in America. Proponents of food programs are constantly trying to set the record straight. In February, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities discredited many of the details behind recent efforts to incorrectly portray safety net programs as wasteful spending. OKPolicy Blog just discussed how an Oklahoma proposal to increase work requirements for SNAP recipients would penalize underemployed Oklahomans. (SNAP is the program formerly known as food stamps). OKPolicy rightly pointed out that many (more…)
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Traditionally, the USDA produces food insecurity data for the nation and individual states, but much like poverty, food insecurity rates can vary greatly within states. Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap was designed to look at local food insecurity trends. The main purpose of the project is to provide local community food banks better information about the needs in their communities rather than relying on statewide data.
The project has succeeded. The Map the Meal Gap webpage provides food insecurity rates, income bands within the food insecure population, average meal cost, and the amount of additional money required to meet food needs in 2009 for every state and county in the US. They also provide the some information on the areas served by the food banks in the Feeding America network. Some of the data is surprising.
The data for Oklahoma and Tulsa: (more…)
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In July, I posted about the Summer Food Service Program, but I did not really discuss the problem the federal government was trying to solve. The Summer Food Service Program, SNAP, and other federal food and nutrition programs seek to lower the rate of food insecurity in US households with children. The USDA defines food insecurity as “the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.” It is estimated that around 16% of US households with children face food insecurity at some point in the year, with 8.3% where the children were food insecure. Another .8% where children faced very low food security. This means that in over 9% of households with children, the children face times without food or inadequate food, which is the highest rate since the USDA began collecting data in 1995. This is due in large part to the current economic decline and employment crisis.
In order to meet the growing food security needs in the US, as well as improve the overall health and well-being of children and families, the US Senate passed the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Act includes section on ending childhood hunger, reducing childhood obesity, improving children’s diet, and improving the management of child nutrition programs. I am not going to summarize the whole bill, but it seems to streamline processes that were previously considered barriers to program uptake. Hopefully, this means more families will take advantage of programs to reduce food insecurity. To learn more about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, click here.
To read more about food insecurity in the US, click here, here, or here.
To read our previous post about the Summer Food Service Program, click here.
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