We all know times are tough. Unemployment is still high. Consumer spending is still low. But with all the news of a post-recessionary economic recovery, many Americans are hopeful that the worst of the nation’s recent near-Depression is past them. Unfortunately, for one in five of our nation’s citizens an economic recovery is far from a reality, as these same individuals struggle to feed themselves and their families.
Based on a recent article from The Huffington Post, “A staggering 18 percent of Americans surveyed last month said there have been times over the past year when they could not afford to put food on the table, recent Gallup data shows. This number is slightly lower than it was in September 2009, despite persistently high unemployment levels and record participation in the food stamp program.”
And while these hunger numbers do represent a decline from the 2009 figures, the lower, but still high, level of hunger is likely due to an increase in federal food stamp disbursements through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which boosted monthly benefits for recipients about 13.6 percent in April 2009, and not because the American public is any better off.
"By early 2009, the rate of people answering yes [to the question of food hardship] had jumped up to 19 or 20 percent," said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center in a recent press conference. "Then, even as unemployment going up, there was a decline in yes answers to this question beginning in the spring of 2009, and it was pretty obvious that one key cause of this was the increase in SNAP or food stamp benefits that Congress passed as part of the Economic Recovery Act."
Regrettably, even these “SNAP-y” benefits may have a limited life span.
According to HuffPost, “Participation in the food stamp program is at an all-time high, currently reaching one in eight Americans. But Congress is considering ending the temporary boost in SNAP benefits to pay for new child nutrition programs like school lunch reimbursement, perhaps as early as November 2013, which would take $59 a month out of the food budget of low-income families.”
These cuts could have a pretty devastating effect on the millions of families who depend on these federal benefits just to make ends meet. And the effects are widespread, as these hunger issues aren’t just a symptom of inner city or poor rural life anymore. And as unemployment figures continue to push double-digit numbers throughout the country, things aren’t looking up anytime soon for families facing their fears of fewer meals and empty stomachs. So, while a new Congress may be reluctant to extend these types of social welfare programs as they also try to cut the deficit, experts hope the issue of child nutrition and food insecurity can generate bipartisan support.
As the economy continues its “slow-to-no” recovery and Americans’ confidence in their ability to feed their own diminishes, confidence in the benefits of bankruptcy continues to rise. If you’re finding your own economic cupboard is bare due to credit card debt, mounting mortgage payments, or unexpected medical bills, it may be time to take your financial future into your own hands.
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