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A new study shows that the current SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program fails to adequately feed families.
“Feeding America knows that millions of Americans struggle to feed themselves and their families on current SNAP benefits. The average family of three receives about $290 a month in SNAP benefits, which averages less than $1.50 per person per meal,” said Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America, in response to a new report from the Institutes of Medicine (IOM). “Most SNAP benefits are redeemed by day 21 of any given month, leaving families scrambling to find enough food – and increasing the burdens on food pantries run by our nation’s charities.”
In the report released Jan. 17, the authors concluded that the SNAP benefit formula should be adjusted to more accurately reflect household expenses, such as housing and medical costs. The research also suggests that the benefit allotment should take into consideration environmental factors, like time constraints, geographic food price variation, and access to affordable, nutritious food.
According to data collected by a variety of agencies and Feeding America, the counties with the top 10% highest food insecurity rates in the nation may also have some of the highest food prices, something not reflected in SNAP’s current formula. For example, food costs in Colusa, California, are 143% of the national average or $3.60 per meal -- more than double the amount that SNAP allows for a meal.
Although Congress voted to extend SNAP through Sept. 30 as part of the Farm Bill, they did make significant cuts to the already fragile program, including reducing funding for nutritional education which helped families make better use of the benefits.
“Feeding America urges our nation’s leaders to keep the SNAP program fully funded. With millions of Americas out of work, employed in part time or low wage jobs, and still suffering economic woes in this tough economy, this report underscores that our leaders should be talking about ways to strengthen SNAP, not cut its funding. We continue to urge Congress to not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and to protect and strengthen SNAP,” said Aiken.
As part of the January 1 "Fiscal Cliff" legislation, the Farm Bill and SNAP were extended until Sept. 30, but further debates on this program are expected next month.
Tell the government not to cut SNAP funding even more, and learn how you can support Feeding America's school programs at The Hunger Site.