Let Them Go Hungry?

It appears there is a new federal policy to let old people and children go hungry.

House Republicans succeeded in passing a Farm Bill last week by a vote of 216-208 by divesting funding for food stamps from federal agricultural policy. It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973. Food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), historically constitute about 80 percent of the funding in a Farm Bill.

 Forty-seven percent of all  SNAP participants were children in fiscal year 2010, according to the  the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)(See Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2010. (2011). USDA FNS)

Long Term Unemployed

Meanwhile, the long term unemployed continue to lose benefits under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (EUC)  as a result of budget cuts under the so-called Sequester.- the automatic $85 billion across-the-board spending cuts in the federal budget for fiscal 2013 that took effect March 1.

 Recipients of  EUC benefits across the nation have seen their benefits reduced by a minimum of 10.7 percent weekly because of the sequester, according to the National Employment Law Project.  That’s a minimum!  North Carolina was dropped from the program altogether leaving thousands in the lurch.

The loss of EUC benefits has had a disparate impact upon older workers. The National Employment Law Project reports that older unemployed workers suffer the highest percentage of long-term unemployment of all age groups, with more than half of unemployed workers ages 45 and older out of work for longer than 27 weeks. In 2007, less than one in four unemployed older workers was out of work for more than half a year.

Food Insecure

 The USDA says  16.7 million children under 18 in the United States lived in households in 2011 where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.   Food insecurity is harmful to any individual but can be devastating for  children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. 

In 2011, approximately 22 percent of American children – 16.1 million children – lived in poverty. (See DeNavas-Walt, C., B.D. Proctor, J.C. Smith. (2012). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011. U.S. Census Bureau)

 Current federal farm and food aid policy expires on Sept. 30.  If Congress fails to pass a new bill in time American farmers will fall back to a 1949 law governing the industry, which are exprected to lead to steep price increases on items such as milk.  Republicans reportedly want make massive cuts in food stamp funding.


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