Millions Left Hungrier Just Weeks Before Thanksgiving

Poverty Policy News Brief

Volume 3, Issue 8
November 11, 2013

In the Spotlight
As of November 1st, more than 47 million Americans saw cuts to their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, more commonly known as food stamps.  It is the largest wholesale cut to the program since 1964 and affects about one in every seven Americans. While this was an independent cut, SNAP benefits are typically adjusted as part of the Farm Bill, and further cuts to the program are expected when the newest version of that bill is passed. In addition to impacting families who need SNAP benefits to eat, these cuts are expected to impact the grocers and other businesses who serve communities in which a high percentage of residents are reliant on food stamps.
In  New Jersey, food banks are feeling additional pressure from individuals whose benefits have been reduced. In Minnesota, where approximately 10% of residents get some form of federal assistance, there is fear that the  cuts being debated as part of the Farm Bill McSilverType3could remove 32,000 individuals from the SNAP rolls.  Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is particularly concerned about cuts to veterans’ SNAP benefits. Veterans’ unemployment and poverty rates currently hover above those of the general population.
The recent SNAP reductions are better understood as rollbacks rather than cuts. They went into effect in 2009 as part of President Obama’s massive stimulus package and were never intended to be permanent. However, many families still keenly feel the effects of 2008’s recession. Those effects, alongside the massive structural changes occurring in sectors such as manufacturing, mean that many of the families forced on to food stamps in 2008 are still struggling to make ends meet. 76.7% of households receiving food stamps contain at least one person with a job, and the largest group of people receiving food stamps are children. Clearly, SNAP recipients are not, on the whole, passive or without agency, but as grocery prices rise while real wages stagnate and benefits are reduced, it gets harder and harder for working people to feed their families without assistance.
Direct Service Implications

With the recent reductions in food stamp benefits impacting consumers throughout the country, just weeks before one of the major national holidays with an emphasis on food, providers should start to look for resources within agencies and the community to not only help individuals make ends meet, but to also ease the burden and stress that is often a presence around the holidays.   Sharing information on why these reductions took place and what clients can do to remedy the situation is also important.   Identifying foodbanks in the community and connecting consumers to these resources that they might not already be aware of is one way to address this issue.  A great example is working with local groups such as Long Island Food Not Bombs, a grass roots group that provides thousands of tons of vegan and vegetarian food to individuals annually.  Just in time for thanksgiving, LIFNB will be holding several food share events fromNovember 23-December 1 across the island. Click here for more information, oremail them to connect directly.

Another way is to work within your agency and/or community to start a food drivefor the hungry.   Take the time to sit with your clients and help them assess  their eligibility.  Make sure parents of school-aged children are aware of free and reduced-meal options available at their childrens schools.  As always, providers should be well versed in advocating for community needs with elected officials. Work with the communities you serve to have more voices heard where decisions are being made.


Millions Left Hungrier Just Weeks Before Thanksgiving was originally posted by the McSilver Institute of Poverty Policy and Research with permission granted by all parties.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles listed in the Policy News Briefs are not necessarily the views of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research or NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. If you have comments or suggestions about this service, contact us at 212-998-5937 or simply reply to this email.

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One Response

  1. Emily Pierce November 21, 2013

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