By ALEXA URA TEXAS TRIBUNE • OCT 6, 2016
Although incomes have been rising and poverty declining in Texas, there’s been less change in the share of households relying on food stamps, new U.S. Census data shows.
In 2015, 12.5 percent of Texas households used the program, down from 13.1 percent in 2014. The drop of about 43,000 households was less significant than the overall drops in individual and household poverty from 2014 to 2015. The disparity underscores that economic recovery has not reached all poor people and that the need for food assistance is not limited to those living in poverty, nutrition advocates and researchers said.
People facing the most dire financial circumstances are “probably the ones whose boats are last to rise,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.
“Just the fact that people are on SNAP over the poverty line is an indicator that even over the poverty line people aren’t earning enough to feed their families,” Cole added.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than 48 million people in America—including 15 million children—are food-insecure.
Unemployment is the primary driver of food insecurity….without income that comes from a job, people often lack the resources to purchase an adequate amount of food.
…there is considerable food insecurity among families that are ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): More than one-fourth of all food-insecure people live in households with incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level, and thus are ineligible for federal food assistance programs.
Among all people struggling with hunger in the U.S., more than half—56 percent—have incomes above the federal poverty level.
Many stories illustrate the complicated circumstances that push people into a state of food insecurity and, in many cases, anchor them there for years. But by working together and implementing data-driven solutions, we can move closer to creating a hunger-free America.
DALLAS—If economics is the “science of scarcity,” consider Joe Clifford—a pastor with an undergraduate degree in economics from Auburn University and a background in banking—a science-denier.
“God’s economy does not operate on the myth of scarcity but on the truth of abundance,” Clifford, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, told an event sponsored by Dallas Baptist Association, the Texas Hunger Initiative and other partners in the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions.
Hunger exists not due to a scarce food supply but because a flawed distribution system denies poor people access to what they need, he asserted. People of faith have a responsibility to meet the needs of the poor and hungry, he insisted.
“You can’t read the Bible without running into stories about food,” he said, citing examples ranging from God providing the Israelites manna after their exodus from Egypt to Jesus feeding the 5,000. “Feeding hungry people, according to Scripture, has always been important to God and, therefore, important to God’s people.”
In the last four decades, The Stewpot, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas, has provided 5 million meals to homeless and needy people. (http://thestewpot.org/) Thanks to the 1,500 volunteers a month who participate, meal costs have averaged just $1.75 each, Clifford said.
Food is a basic need that many people take for granted. Yet, 48 million Americans face limited access to adequate amounts of nutritious food. Many who are food insecure rely on food stamps and on cheap, unhealthy food options.
Food insecurity is a major problem in the United States, one that would cost an estimated $24.6 billion to alleviate in a given year. The tens of millions of Americans living in households that face hunger or lack access to adequately nutritious food tend to share some common defining characteristics. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on food insecurity from Feeding America, a nonprofit that operates a network of food banks across the United States, in order to determine the county with the highest share of food-insecure residents in each state. Across the country, food insecurity ranged from 4.3% in Loudoun, Virginia, to 35.7% in Holmes County, Mississippi.
Food insecurity, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate food.
Click to read Counties Going Hungry in Every State – 24/7 Wall St.
Spring is almost in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Millions of children in America can’t wait for summer vacation, but for millions of poor children who rely on school meals it’s a mixed blessing.
I qualify for free and reduced lunch. I can get a free breakfast, I can get like a muffin, juice, anything like that, in the morning, and then lunch, I don’t have to pay, so I can get whatever I wanted for lunch. So I’ve always been able to eat at school for lunch and breakfast.
Linda Ransom is a Columbus, Ohio high school senior and the winner of aChildren’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® scholarship whose family struggles to make ends meet. When Linda was seven her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the medical crisis led to a family financial crisis. Linda’s mother lost her job, and with a mountain of medical bills is still trying to catch up ten years later. They’ve been homeless for stretches of time. Food has often been beyond their means. Linda says, “If we didn’t have any food at home, I knew I could get some at school, and sometimes I could take a couple things from the breakfast line and I could just save it for later, so when I got home, if I was hungry, I could eat it.”
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation and poor children like Linda who rely on free and reduced price breakfast and lunch during the school year to keep the wolves of hunger at bay face a long summer of food deprivation. “It was hard without school during the summer, but being able to qualify for something like food stamps or having a food pantry near us, that helped a lot,” Linda says, but at the end of the month, “it was kind of like a hit-or-miss kind of situation.”
Read more here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/end-summer-child-hunger-n_b_9705540.html
As many as 1 million Americans will stop receiving food stamps over the course of this year beginning on Friday, the consequence of a controversial work mandate that has been reinstated in 22 states as the economy improves.
The 20-year-old rule — which was suspended in many states during the economic recession — requires that adults without children or disabilities must have a job in order to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for more than three months, with some exceptions. Many states have begun to reimpose the federal rule as the economy recovers, with the largest group reviving it at the beginning of this year. As a result, many recipients’ three-month limit expires today, April 1.
The change has reignited a fierce debate between conservative leaders, who say waiving the mandate discourages people from working, and their liberal counterparts, who say the three-month time limit ignores the reality that jobs are still hard to come by for low-skilled workers.
Learn more here: http://wpo.st/w4RR1
Low-income families with children who have special health care needs are at high risk for food insecurity, even when they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and participate in public assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). According to a new study led by researchers from Children’s Health Watch at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and published online ahead of print in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, there is a need to re-evaluate criteria determining qualifications for nutritional assistance in families with children with special health care needs in order to decrease the risk of food insecurity.
Children with chronic health, physical, developmental, and behavioral conditions are classified as having “special health care needs” (SHCN); a 2011 report indicated that 11.4 percent of children in the US under the age of 5 fall into that category. These children often require significant medical care and assistance as well as specific, and often expensive, diets, which can be a considerable financial burden for low-income families. This may lead to household food insecurity, defined as the inability to afford enough food for an active and healthy life for all household members; or child food insecurity, a severe form of food insecurity when resources in the household are so constrained that children’s meals need to be skipped or include less expansive and lower quality (thus less nourishing) foods.
For example, a low-income family with a child with SHCN that has expensive nutritional or formula requirements due to diabetes or a neurological impairment may not qualify for a SNAP benefit that meets the cost of these extra health-related needs. Therefore the family may need to cut back on healthy food options in order to compensate for the increased nutritional expenses for that child, resulting in the family experiencing food insecurity.
The income gap continues to grow between affluent Americans and those struggling to get by, with Dallas households near the top of the scale earning more than 12 times as much as those broadly defined as the “working poor,” according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
The study compared household income of those in the 95th percentile — about $220,000 in Dallas — with those in the 20th percentile, roughly $18,000 a year, said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings and deputy director of its metropolitan policy program.
The growing disparity isn’t just about rising incomes for upper-class households, Berube said, but rather about shrinking paychecks in poorer households, whose incomes remain 13 percent below levels prior to the recession of 2007-09.
“Eighty-five percent of the people we see have a job, but they make a wage that isn’t sufficient and they’re having their hours cut constantly,” said Tracy Eubanks, chief executive officer of Metrocrest Services, which serves families and the elderly in Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Addison, Coppell and parts of Dallas. “These are people with jobs, barely getting by, often on the brink of being evicted.”
Toward the end of every month, hospitals in California see a curious uptick in admissions for hypoglycemia, the kind of low blood sugar that can affect diabetics. The pattern, detected in a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, is almost entirely driven by low-income patients. The non-poor don’t show much change in admissions at all.
The researchers suspect this trend may point to an underlying challenge for the poor: Food stamps, given out in a lump sum at the start of each month, run out for many families before they reach the end of it. Grocery stores in poor neighborhoods often report a rise in business when food stamps are electronically debited, and hospitals may see the result when they run out.
That paper, led by Hilary Seligman, is one of several relatively new studies suggesting that the level of food assistance we give families — the average family of three gets $374 a month — isn’t enough for a month’s worth of meals.