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Study says nearly half of Americans are living in or near poverty

Are things really that bad?  
In a recent Minnesota Spokesman Recorder column discussing how the federal poverty rate is measured, I cited a 2013 study by the Oregon Center for Public Policy regarding the application of its Family Budget Calculator to determine the “basic level of economic security” for families. This alternative instrument designed to more accurately measure poverty suggests that 44 percent of Americans, nearly 140 million people, currently experience economic insecurity. In essence, this means that close to one-half of all Americans are living in or on the edge of poverty. The research findings of the Oregon Center for Public Policy are further bolstered by a 2013 report from Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Living Wage Calculator. Continue Reading →

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SNAP use grows at farmers markets

 

More Minnesotans are using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables and other eligible products at local farmers markets. SNAP use at farmers markets has more than tripled in recent years, seeing a 239 percent increase in dollars spent from 2011 through 2013. The gain follows efforts by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and its partners to make it more convenient and cost effective to use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards at markets. Market Bucks, a special incentive from Blue Cross, matches EBT card purchases with up to an additional $5 in bonus coupons each market day. Market Bucks can be used during the same trip or anytime during the 2014 market season on SNAP-eligible purchases, which include fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy products of farm and field. Continue Reading →

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Too many Minnesotans are going to bed hungry

After witnessing the national media coverage of the Chicago Public Schools Teacher’s Strike of 2012, one distinct and disturbing image still haunts me. I clearly remember many parents asking, in fact begging City officials to keep the schools open as it was the only way to ensure their children received a hot, healthy meal. Of course, the issue of school lunches became a hot topic locally last March when we learned that in several instances Minnesota school children, including those eligible for reduced-priced lunches, were being denied a hot lunch if their account had insufficient funds. This story caused an uproar among parents, politicians and advocacy groups, forcing several school administrators to explain such policies. Shortly after the story broke, Minnesota Senator Al Franken proposed that the federal government step in to cover the full cost for students eligible for reduced-priced lunch. Continue Reading →

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Cutting food assistance is not just morally wrong — it’s bad economics

 

By William Spriggs

Guest Commentator

 

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services in the economy) figures show GDP per person is $53,211. That’s per person, not per family. Those figures also show we annually spend $2,797 per person on food — that’s $233 per person a month. After netting out imports, we sell nearly $14 billion in food overseas. Clearly America is a wealthy nation that is fully food secure. Continue Reading →

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Nearly five million Black households hit by food stamp cuts

By Frederick H. Lowe

Contributing Writer

 

Approximately 4.7 million African American households will see their monthly food stamp allotment dramatically reduced beginning this month. Bread for the World, a non-partisan, Christian citizens’ movement in the United States to end hunger, determined the number of Black households that would  be affected by cuts in food stamps with United States Department of Agriculture data. In 2010, Congress voted to cut $11 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs or SNAP, and the first of three fiscal years of cuts begin this week. During the first fiscal year of the cut, which ends Sept. 30, 2014, $5 billion will be sliced from the program. Continue Reading →

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Cognitive dissonance

By William E. Spriggs

Guest commentator

 

The U.S. Department of Treasury has announced that the deficit for 2013 was $680 billion (which is about $200 billion less than projected back in February). It has been falling since 2009 at the fastest rate on record since the demobilization of World War II. But, somehow, tea party Republicans have succeeded in getting the Washington media elite and the president to continue focusing on the deficit. What continues to be overlooked is that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also produced an estimate that the gap between current GDP (the value of all goods and services in the country) and where CBO estimates GDP would be if the unemployment rate was six percent instead of around seven percent was $439 billion. The Washington elite, who have been absorbed by discussions of long-term budget projections since the mid-1990s, cannot come to grips with the current crisis’ impact on the economy. Continue Reading →

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Forklift driver/cook says hard work — not welfare — saves families

“Black people,” says Anthony Zeigler, “have always been in a recession. We just deal with it.” When life got tough, you simply hitched up your britches and kept stepping. “When it gets harder to find work, well, you just have to look harder, that’s all. “In our culture, as African Americans, we learn how to handle things. Make do with what we have.” Zeigler says of his home life as a youngster, “It was never an issue of how much money we had. Continue Reading →

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Fiscal cliff most threatening for Blacks, other communities of color

 
Effects would add more hurt to Great Recession’s impact 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Low- and moderate-income people will immediately be adversely affected if the country plunges over “the fiscal cliff” at the beginning of the year, predicts a former Obama administration member. Automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take place unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement by December 31. Last week, on a New America Media-scheduled teleconference with reporters, including the MSR, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein said that “low-income people will feel [it] right away if we go over the fiscal cliff” on January 1.      

“Current conditions actually are very tough on low-income people,” said Bernstein. “Fifteen percent of the population are in poverty, and if you look at folk who are disproportionately low-income, African American poverty is closer to 28 percent [and] Hispanics at 25 percent. Continue Reading →

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Over 25 percent of African Americans struggle with hunger

 

Data released in early September by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that 25.1 percent of African American households were food insecure in 2011. Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table and often don’t know where their next meal will come from. This figure is more than 10 percentage points higher than the overall U.S. food insecurity figure of 14.9 percent.  

 

 

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