The SNAP Challenge and food insecurity in America

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Tucson Community Food Bank's SNAP Challenge is underway this week:

Starting Tuesday, a challenge to all people in Southern Arizona, spend
only $4 a day on food.  That is idea behind the SNAP challenge. 

Participants are ‘challenged' to only spend $4 per person, per day
for four days and still keep the meals healthy and their family members
full. 

The SNAP challenge is sponsored by the Community Food Bank of
Southern Arizona, who stated that while this challenge experience cannot
give participants a true sense of living in deep or prolonged poverty,
it can provide insight into some challenges many families face.

Challenge organizers also want participants to consider proposed cuts to the SNAP program. 

The SNAP challenge runs from September 3 to September 6.

A New York Times report today by Sheryl Stolberg examines GOP plans to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program. On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps:

When Congress officially returns to Washington next week, the diets of
families like the Rigsbys and the Adamses will be caught up in a debate
over deficit reduction. Republicans, alarmed by a rise in food stamp
enrollment, are pushing to revamp and scale down the program. Democrats
are resisting the cuts.

No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November,
when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires.

Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget
analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in “food
insecurity” among Americans who, as Mr. Rigsby said recently, “look like
we are fine,” but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and
rationing food.

Surrounded by corn and soybean farms — including one owned by the local
Republican congressman, Representative Stephen Fincher — Dyersburg,
about 75 miles north of Memphis, provides an eye-opening view into
Washington’s food stamp debate. Mr. Fincher, who was elected in 2010 on a
Tea Party wave and collected nearly $3.5 million in farm subsidies from
the government from 1999 to 2012, recently voted for a farm bill that
omitted food stamps.

“The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of
each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and
give to others in the country,” Mr. Fincher, whose office did not
respond to interview requests, said after his vote in May. In response
to a Democrat who invoked the Bible during the food stamp debate in
Congress, Mr. Fincher cited his own biblical phrase. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture released a 2012 survey
showing that nearly 49 million Americans were living in “food insecure”
households
— meaning, in the bureaucratic language of the agency, that
some family members lacked “consistent access throughout the year to
adequate food.” In short, many Americans went hungry. The agency found
the figures essentially unchanged since the economic downturn began in
2008, but substantially higher than during the previous decade.

Experts say the problem is particularly acute in rural regions like
Dyersburg, a city of 17,000 on the banks of the Forked Deer River in
West Tennessee. More than half the counties with the highest
concentration of food insecurity are rural
, according to an analysis by Feeding America,
the nation’s largest network of food banks. In Dyer County, it found,
19.4 percent of residents were “food insecure” in 2011, compared with
16.4 percent nationwide.

Over all, nearly 48 million Americans now receive food stamps, an $80
billion-a-year program that is increasingly the target of conservatives
.
Robert Rector, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation,
argues that the food stamp program should be overhauled so that
benefits are tied to work, much as welfare was revamped under President
Bill Clinton. He advocates mandatory drug testing for food stamp
recipients
— a position that draws support from Mr. Rigsby, who dreams
of becoming a game warden and said it irritated him to see people “mooch
off the system.”

But when benefits drop in November, the Rigsbys, who say they receive about $350 a month, can expect $29 less.

“People have a lot of misimpressions about hunger in America,” said
Maura Daly, a Feeding America spokeswoman. “People think it’s associated
with homelessness when, in fact, it is working poor families, it’s
kids, it’s the disabled.”
Hunger is often invisible, she said, and in
rural areas it is even more so.

Hunger was easy to see on a recent morning in Dyersburg. Hundreds of
people, many of them food stamp recipients, lined up at the county
fairgrounds for boxes of free food — 21,000 pounds of meat, potatoes,
grains and produce — that had been trucked in from a food bank in
Memphis. About 80 volunteers set up an assembly line in a warehouse to
distribute the food.

More than 700 families get help each month from the charitable program, Feed the Need,
which was founded in 2009 by Mark Oakes, the chairman of the local
Salvation Army, after a string of nearby factories closed.

* * *

Officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,
or SNAP, food stamps have long been a cornerstone of the federal safety
net. Benefits, adjusted for income, are loaded monthly onto a
government-issued debit card. Recipients say the money typically lasts a
little more than two weeks.

* * *

In Washington, House Republicans propose cutting $40 billion more in
food stamps over the next 10 years by imposing work requirements and
eliminating waivers for some able-bodied adults. The cuts would push
four million to six million low-income people, including millions of
“very low-income unemployed parents” who want to work but cannot find
jobs, off the rolls, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning research organization.

Even if approved in the House, the cuts would face strong opposition
from Democrats in the Senate. But the arguments of Mr. Rector, the
Heritage Foundation scholar, are gaining traction with conservatives on
Capitol Hill. “I think food stamps have in the Republican mind become
the symbol of an out-of-control, means-tested welfare state,” Mr. Rector
said.

Well here's the deal, you asshole: everyone at the Heritage Foundation and every one of the Tea-Publicans in Congress who are waging your war against the poor should have to take the SNAP Challenge, but not just for four days. Let's see how you rich sunsuvbitches do over a period of three months trying to feed your families on what little more than 48 million Americans try to survive on.

And when it comes time for you to meet St. Peter at the golden gates of Heaven, it will be time to separate the the sheeps and goats. "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:31-46.

This false religion of Prosperity Theology that the über-rich elite plutocrats have invented to justify their massive accumulation of wealth at the expense of everyone else is not Christianity. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24.

UPDATE: Some 14.7 percent of American households nationally were either unable to get access to quality food or went hungry at some point in the last
three years, according to a new Agriculture department report out Wednesday. And that rate varied dramatically by state. 'Food insecurity' is high, but states still saying no to federal support (Washington Post).

UPDATE: Josh Hicks reports at the Washington Post, Largest USDA overpayments go toward farm subsidies. Lookin' at you, Mr. Fincher. More from Think Progress, Watchdog Finds Zero Major Overpayments In Food Stamps, $17 Million In Farm Programs.

By the way, this teabagger's quote, "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," referred to ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus' Second Coming, not lazy people. Those Apocalyptic end-timers have always been nuts.

3 responses to “The SNAP Challenge and food insecurity in America

  1. Maybe you should educate yourself by volunteering to work for your local community food bank, and for meals on wheels to learn about food insecurity.

  2. Thucydides: Obesity because to stay on budget their diets are approx. 95% carbohydrates. Protein is too expensive.

    I wonder if Mr. Fincher would change his tune if farm subsidies were eliminated (in my opinion they should be!)

  3. Food insecurity? You have to be kidding me. The number one problem of the poor is now obesity, severe obesity, extreme obesity. The next generation will not live as long because of the severity of this obesity. Not all of this obesity is just calories. Our food culture does not reflect the latest research in diet. Our bodies are designed to eat fat, not carbs. Carbs are killing us. The replacement of fat with sugar and othe refined carbohydrates has resulted in the highest obesity rate in the nation sitting right here in Southern Arizona.