Have you ever had to feed your family on five dollars a day per person? That’s less than $2 per meal right? 1 in 6 people in America face hunger, 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger and in the African American and Latino communities, 1 in 3 children are at risk of hunger. That is one too many in a developed country. Households that contain children have a higher incidence of food insecurity at 20.6% than households without children at 12.2%. These are not families that choose to be poor, they do not choose to have food insecurities, they are often working for minimum wage making your coffee, your breakfast, cleaning the hotel room that you stayed in on vacation, and serving your lunch. In the United States, food insecurity is not caused by people not having access to food, it is rather caused by poverty. As I say often, no one wakes up one day and decides to be poor. To add to the facts, 17.9 million households in the United states were food insecure in 2011. That is a staggering number.
SNAP benefits, which are a part of the Farm Bill, are up for massive cuts. For many people that get $100 a month in benefits, the Senate bill will cut $90 a month from their benefits, so this will cut their benefits back to $10 per month. 1 in 7 people are enrolled in the SNAP program and nearly half of them are some of the smallest among us, children. Now to add on top of that, of the amount of food purchased in the United States, 40% is thrown out in the United States or $165 Billion worth. That amount of that uneaten food could feed 25 million people in America alone. So when these benefits are being considered for cuts, think about this. There are eight states that have statistically higher food insecurity rates in the United States, higher than the National average 14.7%. Mississippi and Arkansas tie for the top spot at 19.2% with Mississippi having an unemployment rate of 10.7% while Arkansas has a rate of 8%. South Carolina comes in third with a food insecurity rate of 19% and here in South Carolina we have an unemployment rate of 10.3%. Followed by Texas 18.5%/7.9%, Alabama 17.4%/9.0%, Georgia 17.4%/9.8%, Florida 16.2%/10.5, and North Carolina 17.1%/10.5%. No one wishes to be poor, unemployed, or unable to take care of their basic needs and with high unemployment, basic needs such as shelter, food, and medications often come before food.
So what is the major issue? With the cuts in the Senate alone, in the amount of $4.1 Billion, 400,000 households will be affected and the House bill calls for $21 Billion in cuts. We as a nation can not balance the budget of our country on the backs of the most vulnerable among us. The way that we ensure that we move forward as a country is by taking care of the weakest among us. I often hear some of my friends judging those that do get benefits for their choices when it comes to grocery, families do what they can to ensure that their food supply last long enough to get through the month and this is when we as human beings lose sight of what is important. We judge because we do not understand or we have never been there or an even scarier though, we have been there and don’t choose to remember what it was like.
I am a family that has from time to time had to rely on SNAP benefits. I am a parent that fears my children not having enough food. I am a family that knows what it is like to have to tell your children, this is all that we have to eat. It is not my choice to experience this, I do the best that I can. I am active in seek employment, I am active in do what I can do to make sure that my children are provided for the best way that I know how.
So what does this mean to the average American. According to Moody’s Analytics, they estimate that for every $1 spent in SNAP benefits generate $1.70 in economic activity. That means that in South Carolina alone, $1.37 billion was pumped into South Carolina’s economy in 2012. With these cuts, this will impact South Carolina’s fragile economy. So what can you do, call your House Member or Senator and tell them to support good SNAP amendments and oppose bad SNAP amendments. The decisions that are made can have a negative impact on the lives of millions of people thus affecting the economy of many states. If families do not have money for food, they do not put money into the economy for food needs.
As much as I would love to say that this will fix our ills, it will not, but if it prevents one child or family from going hungry, it’s worth it. Look beyond your ideas of what should and could happen and make a phone call to protect these families, the elderly is included.