Issue #12, March 30, 2015

SNAP and Congressional Budget Cuts

FRAC Analysis: SNAP Cuts in House Budget Target 705,000 Households in 22 Republican Districts - FRAC, March 25, 2015
Earlier this week, 22 members of the House Budget Committee majority voted for a budget intended to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $125 billion in the coming decade, with almost all of the cuts occurring in the last five years of the budget cycle.  That cut would slash the program by a third in those years, reducing monthly benefits for every individual receiving SNAP by many hundreds of dollars per year, or, throw many millions of beneficiaries out of the program, or effect a combination of the two. These members voted to end or reduce benefits for many thousands of SNAP recipients who live in their districts.
   

GOP’s proposed cuts to food stamps would hit San Bernardino hard – Southern California Public Radio, March 20, 2015
Individual SNAP participation in California’s San Bernardino County increased 16 percent last year, and more than 175,000 families receive benefits, with the number growing monthly. The Republican’s federal budget proposal aims to cap the amount of money the government gives to states for the program. “What they’re doing is shifting the burden to the states to take care of the poor,” said Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change. Gary Madden, who runs the United Way’s 211 call center in the county, said 75,000 calls for public assistance come in every year, a number equaled on the website. Many new SNAP applicants are employed, said Madden, but their paychecks don’t last out the month. “The recovery you hear about on the news doesn’t seem to have happened very much here,” he said.
   


SNAP

Food stamp decline: Improving economy or program cutbacks? – Journal-News, March 19, 2015
“I would challenge anyone who states the decline in food stamps enrollment is a sign of an improving economy,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of FoodBanks. In 2014, an average of 1.73 million Ohio residents received SNAP benefits, about 90,000 fewer than the year before. Although the state added 67,600 nonfarm jobs in 2014, and last year’s unemployment rate of 5.7 percent was the lowest since 2007, Ohio reinstated SNAP work requirements in 2013, stopping benefits for many vulnerable Ohioans who don’t have dependent children and are either unemployed or underemployed, said Hamler-Fugitt.
   


Child Health and Hunger

Sound Nutrition: What Every Child Needs – USDA Blog, March 11, 2015
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and its more than 62,000 pediatrician members identified poverty and child health as a strategic priority, writes Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of AAP, in this blog post. One in five U.S. children live in households with scarce food, and these children experience learning difficulties and are more likely to have educational, health and behavioral problems because of hunger. To have the best chance at success, U.S. children must have access to healthy school meals, their families must be connected to SNAP and WIC, and schools must be encouraged to take advantage of the Community Eligibility Provision, which assures free school meals to children in high poverty areas.
   


Poverty in the U.S.

Minority families struggle to break out of poverty, study finds – LA Times, March 17, 2015
A study of Census data by the Working Poor Families Project shows that 44 percent of California families headed by a working minority parent are low-income, compared to 16 percent of white families. Researchers wrote in the report that minorities are more likely to work in low-paying jobs, and that “lack of work effort” is not the reason for the disparity for minorities. Low paying jobs offer little growth opportunity, few benefits and unusual work hours, and these factors complicate child care and transportation, according to the report.
   


Economic Inequality

How inequality harms health – and the economy – CBS News Moneywatch, March 6, 2015
Recent research from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health finds that when inequality is very large, it can lower economic growth, and income inequality is associated with health inequality. The researchers write that lower income is associated with “high levels of stress, exhaustion, cardiovascular disease, lower life expectancy and obesity,” and that these health effects on parents also show up in their children. SNAP research shows that children growing up with access to the SNAP Program turned out “healthier and more productive than those who didn’t, which means that they made a bigger economic contribution.”
   

Want to eat nutritious food? If you don’t get a raise, you’re out of luck – The Washington Post, March 10, 2015
Since 2007, hourly wages for 90 percent of the college-educated workforce have declined, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. In addition, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has called attention to the steep rise in requests for emergency food assistance in the Washington, D.C. area, caused by high rents and increasing food costs. The problem is expected to grow worse in 2015. In addition, the mayors’ report found that “the Washington metro area is seeing growing numbers of low-income individuals suffering from diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.”
   

The Middle Class Has Gotten Smaller In Every State Since 2000 – Huffington Post, March 19, 2015
The percentage of middle class households* between 2000 and 2013 dropped in every state, and median income also fell during the same period, reports the Pew Charitable Trust’s Stateline blog. The largest declines were in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nevada and New Mexico. Middle class wages have not caught up with the rising costs of child care, tuition and hospital visits, while higher-earning individuals are making more money each year. According to the Stateline analysis, a greater percentage of households in many states pay at least 30 percent of their total income on housing, an indicator of housing affordability.
*Households earning between 67 and 200 percent of a state’s median income.
   


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At White House, Commerce Department, Growing Concern About Cuts to Statistics – The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2015
Economic statistics surveys, particularly the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), are at risk of cuts, say White House and Commerce Department officials. The data is critical because “public policy should be evidence-based,” said Betsey Stevenson, one of three economists on the White House Council of Economic Advisors. The ACS represented more than 20 percent of the Census Bureau budget and more than a third of its staff in 2015, yet it reaches 3.5 million households each year and produces detailed demographic and economic data of small areas such as census tracts or block groups. A recent conference of the National Association of Business Economics, representing mostly private sector economists, also criticized cuts to the ACS.

Budget Cuts and Government Statistics

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