Living on $31.50 a Week
A month ago the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report stating that 48.8 million Americans lived in households that in 2010 struggled with hunger. 16.2 million of those people were children. While this report is very worrisome, later in the month the Census Bureau released a report stating that 3.9 million people (including 1.7 million children) were prevented from falling deeper into poverty by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). This statistic demonstrates once again that SNAP is a success story. In a year of massive unemployment, foreclosures, and increased poverty, SNAP was the saving grace for millions of families.
A Hungry and Poor America: What 2010 Tells Us
On September 13th, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2010 report on “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the U.S.” The results of this report were not surprising for the millions of Americans who struggle to feed their children, pay for their medicine, and keep a roof over their heads every day. The report revealed that nearly 1 in 6 Americans lived in poverty in 2010. Additionally, the report indicated that real median household income in the United States declined 2.3 percent between 2009 and 2010 to $49,445.
The official poverty rate for 2010 was 15.1% or 46.2 million people. This is the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number of people living in poverty in the fifty-two years the study has been in existence. In 2010, 9.2 million families were living in poverty. The poverty rate for children went from 20.7% in 2009 to 22% in 2010. This study also presents data on health insurance coverage. The number of people without health insurance rose from 49 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010.
What We Hope to See in the President’s Speech on Jobs
Later tonight, President Obama will deliver his much anticipated jobs speech before a joint session of Congress. The President is rumored to recommend a $400 billion investment in infrastructure, support to the unemployed, and tax cuts to spur hiring.
The JCPA has long believed that the best way we can lower our deficit and deal with our country’s economic and budget woes is to foster significant and sustainable gains in employment. We hope to see the following points in the President’s speech tonight. These items will display a true commitment to job creation:
Forty-five million low-income people in America use the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) to provide food for themselves and their families. More than half of SNAP recipients are children and 8% are people over the age of 60. The average food stamp benefit is FY2010 was $133/month. This breaks down a per person benefit of $31.50/week, $4.50/day, and $1.50/meal.
But what does all of this really mean?
In the documentary Food Stamped, nutritionist Shira Potash and her documentary filmmaker husband Yoav attempt to maintain their healthy lifestyle while feeding themselves on only approximately $4.50/day.
Food Hardship in America: A FRAC Study
Earlier today our colleagues at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released a report on food hardship in America. Looking at data from the 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll, they found that in virtually every Congressional District in the country food hardship can be found, and that nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households with children reported an inability to afford enough food.
FRAC and Gallup determined the definition of “food hardship” by asking “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” If a person answered “yes”, FRAC considered this evidence of food hardship. This is similar to a poll conducted by the Census Bureau to determine “food insecurity.”FRAC’s report found that nationally in 2010 the food hardship rate for households without children was 14.9%. For households with children the food hardship rate was 23.4%.
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