From the Food Research Action Center (FRAC at http://www.frac.org):
Food Stamp Use Growing: Reported on CBS News, December 21, 2009 (http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/12/22/couricandco/entry6012013.shtml)
36 million Americans are now receiving SNAP/Food Stamps, “a number so high it’s almost hard to believe,” said Katie Couric in her online Notebook at CBS.com. “That’s one in every eight people—one in every four children.” Researchers at Cornell and at Washington University note that participation rises for some groups over others—90 percent of children with single parents, and 90 percent of African American children will find themselves on SNAP/Food Stamps at some point before they turn 21. Las Vegas, Phoenix and parts of Florida—more severely affected by the housing crisis—have seen soaring rates of SNAP/Food Stamp use. “But the high unemployment rate means hunger is a problem all across the nation,” said Couric. “Millions of us will head to the malls…for all that last minute stuff we really don’t need. Meanwhile, one in four children is in need of something much more important than a Nintendo Wii or a Zhu Zhu pet—enough food to eat every day of the year.”
Food Bank Usage Growing: Reported at Shop Talk blog/Reuters, December 18, 2009 (http://blogs.reuters.com/shop-talk/2009/12/18/as-downturn-takes-toll-food-bank-volunteers-become-clients/)
At the same time SNAP/Food Stamp usage numbers have been climbing to record highs, 99 percent of food banks surveyed by Feeding America have reported increases in demand for services over the past year. Ninety-eight percent of the food banks reported that this demand has been driven by first-time users. More middle-class families, struggling to put food on the table, are applying for SNAP/Food Stamps. “These are our neighbors, our friends, the people we go to church with,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Stimulus Benefit Boost Should Be Made Permanent: “Food stamps for thought,” by Cokie and Steve Roberts, Jewish World Review, 12/23/09 (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1209/croberts.php3)
“Here’s an easy one. Fight hunger and boost the economy at the same time. We’re not talking about some loaves-and-fishes miracle. All Congress has to do is make permanent the temporary expansion of the food-stamp program included in the stimulus package last spring. Food stamps, now formally known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), are the gift that keeps on giving. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com says it is by far the most efficient way of using public money to generate economic activity, producing $1.73 in financial benefits for every $1 spent. The reason is simple: Poor families spend food stamps immediately, and the dollars ripple quickly through other local businesses. The only strategies that produce anything with a similar economic kick: extending unemployment benefits ($1.64) and repairing infrastructure ($1.59). Compare that to an across-the-board tax cut, which generates only $1.03 in benefits for every $1 (people save it instead of spend it). Cutting corporate taxes actually costs the Treasury money and produces only 30 cents for each public dollar. The stimulus package raised the average monthly food-stamp allotment for a family of four by $80 to $668. Congress added a temporary infusion of money for food stamps in the defense appropriations bill sent to the president last week, but lawmakers need to revisit the issue after the holidays. While they’re at it, Congress should also expand a package of child-nutrition programs, including school lunches and WIC (aimed at new mothers and their babies), which are up for reauthorization in 2010. President Obama has called for a $10 billion increase in these programs over 10 years, and even at a time of rising deficits, that’s a bargain.”