Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 5th 2013
One in five Arkansas households reported serious problems affording adequate nutritious food last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this week. Of the nearly half million Arkansans experiencing food insecurity, some 200,000 experienced very low food security - meaning that one or more household member had to reduce their food intake at least some time during the year. That placed Arkansas at the top of another shameful list measuring the well-being of our kids and families.
One of the most powerful weapons against hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Some 500,000 people in Arkansas participate in SNAP throughout the year and use its benefits to help put basic necessities on the table each day. SNAP benefits are modest, providing less than two dollars per person, per meal. Even so, they have a significant impact in reducing poverty. In 2011 alone, SNAP helped to lift 5.7 million Americans, including 2.1 children out of poverty, based on the federal government's Supplemental Poverty Measure.
Next week Congress may vote to make the problem even worse by drastically cutting the SNAP program. These cuts would come on top of an already scheduled cut in benefits for every SNAP recipient begins November 1st. The House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill that would strip as much as $40 billion from the SNAP program over the next decade.
Bottom line - that means more hunger for struggling families in Arkansas.
The USDA report shows once again that deep cuts to SNAP are incredibly misguided. From an unemployed parent using basic food assistance to feed his or her children while looking for work to a single mother that works but still does not make enough money to put food on the table, SNAP provides a lifeline to people when they need it most. Congress needs to do the right thing - the moral thing - and help families instead of making it more difficult to put dinner on the table.