In 2019, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, eleven percent of Arizona’s population needed to use the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (S.N.A.P. or Food Stamps.) In the United States, the number is 12 percent. Of that eleven percent in Arizona:
- 72 percent are families with children (Nationally, it is 67 percent.)
- 24 percent are households that have residents that are either elderly or disabled (the national figure is 34 percent.)
- 48 percent come from working families (43 percent in the county.)
Those numbers, thanks to the Coronavirus, are going up as 30 million people have lost their jobs and the ability to pay for food.
Vox reported that places like San Antonio had 10,000 people waiting hours to get meal boxes. In Sunrise, Florida, cars lined up for two miles with passengers waiting to get food from one of the local food bank sites.
The problem has been aggravated by the revelation, reported by CNN, that grocery prices have their greatest monthly increase since 1974.
Food Insecurity, as noted by the researchers at the Hamilton Project, is on the rise in the United States. Twenty Percent of those households have children are under the age of 12.
At Phoenix College, cars started to “line up” for two hours to pick up food assistance on April 8, 2020.
While the assistance the federal government (in the form of Coronavirus Stimulus aid,) state governments (like Arizona’s program under Doug Ducey to help children on free and reduced lunch and the ability to purchase food online,) private organizations, and individuals have definitely helped people in need, more needs to be done.
According to Vice News, Feeding America forecasted that, because of the Coronavirus, 18 million children could go hungry.
Food Banks and other public servants advocates are asking Congress to expand SNAP access and the amount people get as long as they are unemployed during the public health emergency.
The Arizona Center for Economic Progress has prescribed increased access to SNAP and more support for “Food Banks and school meal programs.”
The latest Coronavirus Stimulus Proposal from House Democrats calls for an additional ten billion dollars for SNAP.
Unfortunately, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted, some Republicans in Congress and across the country (not all) wrongfully worry that increasing access to food stamps will create disincentives to work. Others are finding the excuse of increasing the national debt. For them, giving tax cuts to the one percent is a better reason to increase the national debt than helping hungry children.
Arizona Democratic Congressional Candidates agree that more needs to be done to help people put food on their table.
Congressional District Five Candidate Joan Greene
“The elected GOP who acquired their multi-millions from an inheritance won in sweepstakes and in some cases stole to acquire their full refrigerator of food, seek to deprive Americans of a way to feed their families.”
“When the first instinct of those more fortunate is not to extend a hand to those in need but to step on the hand, we must as a Nation fight against the elected GOP who are weak in character and mean in spirit.”
“We shine as a Nation when we thrive together.”
Congressional District Eight Candidate Michael Muscato
“A year ago when the stock market was at 25,000 our president claimed triumphantly that he had created the greatest economy the world had ever seen. Today our stock market sits close to the same while 33 million people have filed for unemployment for a 15% unemployment rate. Leadership starts at the top, or at least it did until our president from the Whitehouse lawn said: ” No I don’t take any responsibility.” The historic instances of epic hardship or failure have all come with a name such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession. With more than $6T going to anyone and everyone but small businesses and workers I’d say this one is called the Great Deception.”
“The reality is a year ago the economy wasn’t great. The reality is Covid-19 didn’t ruin the economy. Our economy simply wasn’t great at all. Don’t believe me, just ask the single mother who has to work multiple jobs to provide for herself and her children. Ask the family who can’t afford their nearly $2,000 a month healthcare premium. Ask the youth in Arizona who have to leave Arizona to find opportunities. Ask today’s college graduates about the life of debt they have to look forward to. Ask our farmers, our teachers, or more than 50% of Americans who don’t own stock. Ask the millions of Americans who survive on food stamps, food banks, and homeless shelters.”
“When the coronavirus situation first became major news, my business was shut down and I directed my field team to redirect our efforts to provide outreach to our district. I teamed up with the food bank I volunteer for and began delivering food and supplies to seniors in need or too scared to be out in public. Leadership isn’t about talking. It’s about recognizing a problem and putting action into its solution.”
“One look at social media and you’ll see my opponent and the president screaming socialism is ruining our country. I look around and all I can see is Crony Capitalism. Millions of people who have spent their entire lives reaping only what we sow have now lost our jobs, our businesses, and our savings. All while our elected officials have continued to receive full salary and benefits from us. Respectfully our bootstraps are more than tight enough Mr. Trump and Mrs. Lesko. The only socialists in the room are the ones projecting onto those of us who have had to shoulder this burden.”
Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Musselwhite
“Creating food instability sets up a situation in which people have nothing else to lose. It is evil in a country that is more than capable of feeding itself. I do not believe it reflects the will of the American people.”
Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Olsen
“The SNAP program is a vital thread in our country’s social safety net, providing funds to low-income families to purchase food, and which funds the school lunch program.”
“In our current crisis, where applications for SNAP have increased by 40% since mid-March, I am happy to see that our state has moved to speed up the process for increasing and obtaining SNAP benefits. Gov. Ducey stepped up to the plate on this one and asked the federal government to allow Arizona to automatically increase the amount received by current enrollees, and streamline the application process by eliminating in-person interviews, income restrictions, and suspend work requirements. Additionally, SNAP recipients can now use their EBT cards to order food online, and the state has eliminated the current requirements to reapply, granting an automatic extension for six months.”
“Arizona should be used as a model for those states that have yet to reform the current SNAP program so that their citizens’ immediate need to put food on the table can be met. Hopefully, in the near future, our economy will return to something resembling normal, and the need for these safety-net programs will be reduced.”
“Even though these measures are in place, we need to remember that there are still people going hungry in the valley, specifically the homeless. My wife and I, along with other volunteers, make sandwiches and deliver them, along with water and cookies, to homeless downtown and in local area parks (many of them are veterans). So, while the government has improved programs like SNAP, there is a very real need for volunteers to help others who go hungry.”
This is the United States of America.
People, especially children and the most vulnerable should not go hungry.
There should not be lines of cars stretching miles where people have to wait for hours to get a meal box.
While the previous efforts of the federal government, the state governments, private groups, and individuals have been helpful and reflect all that is good about the American spirit, more needs to be done.
While the main assistance needs to come from the federal government, private organizations and individuals in Arizona can click here to help find a food bank in their local area to donate to. Even a small donation can feed hundreds of people.
There should be no question among the nation’s public servants and citizens about the need to stop people from going hungry.
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