September 6, 2013
Arkansas is second in the nation with citizens living with “food insecurity”, according to a study released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The report states that nearly 20% of Arkansans don’t know where their next meal will come from and the state also ranks first in the category, “very low food security.”
Tyler Lindsey, spokesperson for the Arkansas Food Bank (AFB) said: “One of the major misperceptions of it all is that these people aren’t working. Actually the majority of people who are on SNAP are in the workforce and work full time jobs. They are supporting families of four. Some might be grandparents who are supporting grandchildren in the household. A lot of these folks are hardworking Americans.”
An estimated 17.6 million American families are struggling to keep food on the table. This amounts to 1/3rd of households suffering from “very low food security” which can distrupt normal eating patterns and reduce average food consumption for Americans.
A scary 49 million Americans are now unsure where their next meal is coming from.
Among poor female-headed households, this trend is higher; including African-American and Hispanic families were there is no male in the home.
Essentially, 1 in 5 households with children are dealing with lack of food. Children are being affected the most by this reality.
Tom Vilsack, secretary for the USDA said : “As the recovery continues and families turn to USDA nutrition programs for help to put good food on the table, this is not the time for cuts to the SNAP program that would disqualify millions of Americans and threaten a rise in food insecurity.”
In July, the USDA reported that 101,000,000 Americans are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the domestic US at a cost of $114 billion annually as of 2012.
For perspective, the number of US citizens receiving food stamps surpasses the number of employed workers in the private sector.
The Bureau of Labor (BoL) statistical data shows that in 2012 an estimated 97,180,000 full – time workers were accounted for.
The USDA said that the surge of Americans accepting SNAP benefits is at a “historically high figure that has risen with the economic downturn.”
The USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) preformed an audit that revealed American families are combining benefits from multiple federal agencies such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); the Summer Food Service (SFS); and the Special Milk Program (SMP) to help them meet their nutritional needs.
The audit points out: “With the growing rate of food insecurity among U.S. households and significant pressures on the Federal budget, it is important to understand how food assistance programs complement one another as a safety net, and how services from these 15 individual programs may be inefficient, due to overlap and duplication.”
Shockingly, “food-stamp use rose 2.8% in the U.S. in April from a year earlier, with more than 15% of the U.S. population receiving benefits.”
When the House Agriculture Committee (HAC) approved HR 1947 the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM) which is described as saving “taxpayers’ money, reduces deficit spending, and repeals outdated government programs while reforming, streamlining and consolidating others.”
FARRM has been approved without any money allocated to SNAP. The monetary cut equals $20 billion; from $763 billion to $743 billion.
The current incarnation of SNAP will end as a federal program September 30th of this year. Essentially, the benefits program would need new legislation in order to continue to assist Americans with supplemental food.
House Representative Kristi Noem said : “This process hasn’t been easy and we still have a long way to go to get a farm bill signed into law. Splitting the farm bill is not ideal and certainly wasn’t the path I would have chosen, but at the end of the day, we need to get a farm bill into conference with the Senate.”
During debates, Senator David Vitter argued to have a permanent ban placed against any applicants that had been convicted of a violent crime (including murderers and sex offenders) from receiving SNAP benefits.