As our government leaders discuss the"fiscal cliff" and seek ways to balance the nation's budget, there has been much discussion of making substantial cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps), which is the first line of defense for the millions of Americans who live on the brink of hunger.
"Nearly six million Americans seek help from a food pantry or a soup kitchen each and every week in our country," said Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America."In the past few years we have significantly increased the amount of food we have available to provide to low-income Americans who continually struggle to feed themselves and their families – including senior citizens living on social security, mothers struggling to provide for their children on minimum wage salaries, and millions of people who are out of work, out of savings, and out of unemployment benefits."
"Feeding America's network of food banks, which serve every county in our nation, will simply not be able to make up the difference if cuts are made to the SNAP program. Charities cannot make up for the loss of billions of dollars in SNAP benefits. Our food banks are already stretched thin trying to meet ongoing elevated need, after seeing a 46 percent increase in clients from 2006 to 2010. We do not have the capacity to serve the millions of people who would see their food assistance cut significantly or lose benefits completely if SNAP were cut," Aiken said.
In addition to the current budget talks, the winter months are upon us – meaning that many low-income Americans will have to choose between heating their homes or putting food on their table. School closings for the holidays also mean that 21 million children will lose access to free or reduced price school lunches.
We urge everyone to consider the following facts about food insecurity and SNAP in our nation today:
1. 1 in 5 children lives in food insecure households.
2. 1 in 6 Americans is food insecure.
3. 1 in 7 Americans is enrolled in the Food Stamp program.
4. 1 in 8 Americans receives food from Feeding America.
5. Nearly half of all SNAP participants are children.
6. 3 out of every 4 SNAP households include a child, senior, or disabled person.
7. The average SNAP benefit is less than $1.50 per person per meal, and for senior households on SNAP, it is only $1.23 per person per meal.
8. Every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in local economic activity, meaning SNAP not only supports individual families, but boosts local communities.
9. The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744, a net monthly income of $338, and countable resources of $331.
10. Every single American can help fight hunger in their local community by learning how to advocate, donate or volunteer at www.feedingamerica.org
"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that more than 50 million Americans struggle against hunger. Of those, more than 17 million are children," Aiken said."Every $1 donated to our holiday Give a Meal campaign helps us provide eight meals to people in need. In addition, the Bank of America is currently providing a two to one match for every dollar donated" said Aiken."We encourage people to also visit feedingamerica.org, so they can learn how to help out in their local communities by volunteering or advocating on behalf of the hungry."
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