Friday, July 30, 2010

Senate Cutting Food Stamps Funding by $6.7 Billion

Ezra Klein reports in the Washington Post that the Senate is cutting food stamps funding by $6.7 billon. Klein notes that's a strange move, because money spent on food stamps may be the the best economic stimulus of all:
The Recovery Act included an immediate 13.6 percent increase in food stamps (which are now known as SNAP). That increase equals out to a maximum of $80 per household -- and these are not rich households. But the price of food has leveled out, and in some cases decreased, in the recession. Meanwhile, the number of people who needed help skyrocketed to more than 40 million. For that reason, the program's costs ballooned from an expected $20 billion to about $65 billion. The new price tag scared some, so people began talking about cutting the benefits back.

And here we are. Democrats needed to offset spending on two worthy, important programs [Medicare and teacher funding]. So they're cutting another important, worthy program. But you really can't think of a worse program to cut than SNAP. SNAP is an extraordinarily well-targeted stimulus. It goes to poor households, for something they need to buy. According to Mark Zandi's numbers, it's literally the most stimulative way to spend a dollar: Better than state and local aid, or unemployment insurance. You get more than $1.70 of economic activity for each buck you put in...
But this is also a question of priorities, of what gets cut. Bernie Sanders put up an amendment last month to cut about $35 billion in oil and gas subsidies. It failed. Republicans are arguing to extend Bush's tax cuts for the rich with no offsets, and they may well succeed. But food assistance for poor families? You can get the votes to slash those. Read more

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's it Like When the Hunger Challenge Never Ends? A Family Living on Food Stamps

Hunger Challenge participants are lucky - we only have to live for seven days on a food stamp budget. For many people, it's just life, non-stop, with no end in sight. Here's a National Public Radio series about a family from Carlisle, PA, struggling to make ends meet. They live on an income of $18,000 and have to stretch $600 in food stamps to feed two adults, an eight year old boy and two teenage girls.

Aired: July 19, 2010 (9:01)

July 20, 2010 (6:58)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food Stamp Use Up 55% in San Francisco

Need for food assistance continues to rise in San Francisco. Requests for help from the San Francisco Food Bank are up 25%, and the number of people on food stamps continues to grow. Here's an update, from the San Francisco Examiner:
The number of San Franciscans on food stamps has grown by some 55 percent in the past 17 months. Today, about 41,743 San Franciscans rely on food stamps, according to San Francisco’s Human Services Agency.

But despite the recent spikes, San Francisco food-security advocates say the food-stamp program is not carrying its fair share of the burden. Today, just one-twentieth of San Franciscans are on food-stamp rolls, compared to one-eighth of all Americans.

One might imagine that disparity could simply mean there’s less hunger in wealthy San Francisco than elsewhere in the nation.

But, in fact, the San Francisco Food Bank believes the opposite is true. It estimates that fully one-quarter of all children and senior citizens and about one-fifth of adults in San Francisco live each day with food insecurity. That’s compared to a national average of about 15 percent, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cost of living in San Francisco is a major problem for residents who need food stamps, according to food-security advocates.
Read the entire story here.