The U.S. Census released new statistics today, which find that more than 46 million Americans, 1 in 7, lived in poverty in 2011, approximately the same as 2010: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/news_conferences/20120912_ip_newsconf.html
The poverty threshold for a family of four was $22,811 in 2011. The report also found that 15.5 million children, 1 in 5 American children, live in poverty.
These numbers underscore the food insecurity report released last week, providing more stark evidence that many Americans continue to struggle to put food on the table day after day, even though the great recession has officially ended. Our food banks see this reality of these numbers every day as families who face impossible choices trying to stretch limited budgets turn to them for help. Given the dire circumstances of so many families in every state and county across our nation, it is incomprehensible to us that the House Farm Bill would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) by more than $16 billion.
“The proposed cuts would cause two to three million individuals to lose their food assistance entirely; an additional 500,000 households would have their SNAP benefits cut by an average $90 per month; and nearly 300,000 children would lose free school meals,” said Matt Knott, Interim President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
Today’s report also provided updated data about income, showing that families have yet to see the gains from the decline in unemployment since the beginning of the recession. Median household income declined 1.5% in real terms to $50,054.
“Even families that are fortunate enough to have employment may not be getting the hours or wages they had before the recession, straining the budgets of poor and middle class families alike,” Knott said.
“We have seen a tremendous rise in the number of people coming to the food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding centers served by Feeding America food banks since 2007, including many middle class families seeking assistance for the first time. We have increased the amount of food we have provided during this time by nearly 1 billion pounds,” Knott said, “But if SNAP benefits are cut, we simply will not be able to keep up with the need. We urge Congress to maintain Washington’s historic bipartisan commitment to programs that serve vulnerable, low-income people and ensure strong funding for SNAP and other anti-hunger programs.
The Vermont Foodbank will have local data to share on September 20, 2012.