A few months ago, Who Cares? I Do. Blogger Stephanie Hakes shared with us her experience with Food Stamps and her coming to terms with needing government funded support. This is a situation many across the country are facing due to long term unemployment and the increase of people living below the poverty line. Many who never would have thought they would be in need of assistance in feeding themselves or their families are finding themselves in the same situation as Stephanie. Today, one in seven Americans receives government-provided food stamps, also known as SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A staggering 15% of the country relies in part on food stamps to survive and for many it is their only source of income. The USDA recently reported that seven in ten households receiving food stamps had no earned income last year.
Nationwide, there currently are 45,753,078 people dependent on SNAP. In New York State there are 3 million recipients, 2 million of whom live in New York City. Despite the high reliance on this critical program by so many individuals and families, funding for SNAP is continually threatened. As the Super Committee in Washington continues to meet around deficit reduction, one of the programs on the chopping block is SNAP. During the debt ceiling and government shutdown debates, SNAP has always been a program recommended for cuts.
Over the summer the House passed a resolution to reduce funding to SNAP by almost 20% or $127 billion and convert it into a block grant based program. These changes would begin a hypothetical roll out in 2015 and take place over ten years, but with the imminent Super Committee proposal; SNAP could see a much bigger cut. Many opponents of SNAP claim the program is a contributor to the Nation’s budget woes. This is FALSE! The rise in SNAP users is in direct response to the current “recession” and consistently high unemployment rate. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the current budget crisis is driven largely by the aging of the population and rising health care costs that are outpacing the growth of the overall economy.
Like the many budget issues we are currently facing, the poor are not to blame and are not the root of the problem. We need to continue to underscore this point to members of Congress and the Super Committee. Cuts to this program will result directly in men, women, children and the elderly going hungry. Many Americans have lost so much already, let’s make sure we keep the most basic necessity – food – available to all. Continue to write and call your members of Congress and encourage them to reject cuts to SNAP. To locate your members of Congress click here.
On Thursday, October 18 the Who Cares? I Do. Campaign will be hosting a press event titled the “Austerity Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, that will highlight the desperate need for the continuance of programs like SNAP and how extending the New York State personal income surcharge can ensure their security. Join in tomorrow at 8:30 AM at Tiffany’s located at 5th Avenue and 57th Street.
Contributed by Shana Mosher of the Human Services Council
 Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households: Fiscal Year 2010, United States Department of Agriculture, September 2011.