On Thursday, the House passed a budget decision that will remove struggling Americans from the food stamps program, largely leaving them without means of affording food. The budget represents $4.1 trillion, taking away about $150 billion away from social welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP helps low-income Americans afford food with a stipend between $100-$700 a month for a family of five.
The Statistics and Driving Factors
In 2009, about 32 million people were on the SNAP program, with that number increasing partly due to the recent recession. During that period, Americans receiving SNAP benefits surged to 47.6 million by 2013. As the economy stabilized and improved, that number slowly tapered off. By 2016, that number plummeted to 1.9 million participants.
Many factors contribute to American poverty and the subsequent application to these welfare programs. Even though poverty is a global phenomenon, some factors are intrinsic to the United States – including stagnant wages. As of 2017, the unemployment rate is at its lowest it’s been since September 2001. Currently, the unemployment rate is at 4.3%. However, wages have been stagnant, while prices that represent the quintessential American dream have been moving on an upward trajectory. Home prices, for example, are increasing more than twice the pace of average earnings, and food prices have also slowly crept up.
The issue is further convoluted by the fact that the application process can be complicated, with some states taking people off of the program after a preset amount of months if they aren’t actively working. Then again – these poor individuals don’t have access to jobs to placate the prerequisites to stay on SNAP. These are pain points aren’t so evident until they get a letter noting that their benefits have been cut.
Without the padding of funds for social services, states will need to cut corners to make their budget. Coupled with penalties, many states may not be prepared to absorb the cost to help impoverished populations.
One in six individuals living in America face hunger – more than almost any other developed nation. This budget will make lobbyists smile and the rich scoff with indifference – unfortunately, it can ultimately leave the poor even more destitute.
Featured image via Flickr.