News / USA

US Food Insecurity Reaches Record High

A woman who only gave her first name, Ally, said it was her first time applying for food stamps - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - at a city building in El Cajon, Calif., May 2010 (file photo)
A woman who only gave her first name, Ally, said it was her first time applying for food stamps - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - at a city building in El Cajon, Calif., May 2010 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Record-high numbers of Americans had trouble putting food on the table last year. That's according to new numbers released this week by the U.S. Agriculture Department. One relative bright spot in the report: the numbers held steady even as the U.S. economy suffered through its worst recession in decades.

Nearly one in six Americans struggled to afford food in 2009, according to the USDA, which said the figures are the highest since it began conducting the survey in 1998.

Nearly 9 million children had to eat less-healthy foods, smaller portions - or skip meals entirely - because balanced meals were too expensive.

But even as unemployment climbed from 5 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009, the figures on food insecurity remained fairly steady.

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said that's because of the federal safety-net program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which now enrolls 42 million people.

"That represents about a 58 percent increase in enrollment over a three-year period," said Concannon. "That three years coincides very much with the onset of the recession."

As the recession deepened, the 2009 federal stimulus bill put nearly $60 billion into SNAP.

Executive Director Deborah Weinstein of the advocacy group the Coalition on Human Needs, said the spending boost was a wise investment.

"We know how crucial adequate nutrition is for young children's health and development. And because helping families to buy food means purchases in stores around the nation, economists have from the start recognized that more SNAP boosts the economy," Weinstein said.

But Weinstein is concerned that boost might end, even as the economy continues to stagnate. Congress is considering legislation that would cut SNAP beginning in 2013, in order to pay for increases in other child nutrition programs.    

SNAP advocates say that's like an animal biting off its leg to get out of a trap.

But conservatives are critical of the huge increases in spending on food stamps and other welfare programs under the Obama administration. They see the growth of the government and the $1.3-trillion federal deficit as stifling economic recovery.

The child nutrition bill is one of many awaiting action as the outgoing Congress wraps up its business before the end of the year.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid