Feeding America Stresses Crucial Need For SNAP Benefits For Children

CHICAGO, June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization, is deeply concerned that the farm bill being considered by the House of Representatives this week would increase child hunger. The bill cuts $21 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food relief to low-income individuals, nearly half of whom are children.

Proposed cuts would remove two million individuals from the SNAP program; an additional 850,000 households would have their SNAP benefits cut by $90 per month; and 210,000 children would lose their free school lunch meals because of coordination with their family's SNAP benefits.[i] Feeding America is especially worried about the effect these cuts would have on the more than 1 in 5 children who live at risk of hunger in our nation.[ii]

SNAP, previously called the Food Stamp Program, is a crucial safety net for low-income children who often are at risk of hunger. About 47 percent of SNAP households include children, and these households receive 69 percent of all SNAP benefits.[iii]   

Feeding America's network of food banks serves 14 million children each year. Food banks are already experiencing tremendous strain in the wake of the recession. If the proposed cuts to SNAP take place, food banks would be unable to make up for the loss of benefits to children and their families.

The following are important facts to consider:  

  • In 2011, 45 percent of SNAP recipients were children under the age of 18, and 19.9 million children relied on SNAP benefits for some or all of their nutrition needs.[iv]
  • 47.1 percent of SNAP households include children, and these households receive 69.2 percent of all SNAP benefits.[v] Food insecure children often struggle to thrive academically and physically. They have trouble focusing in school and are 1.4 times more likely to repeat a grade.[vi]    Food insecure children are more likely to get sick and are 30 percent more likely to have a history of hospitalization.[vii]
  • Households with children (20.6 percent) are more likely to be food insecure as households with no children (12.2 percent). [viii]
  • Child food insecurity is more pervasive in rural areas; 61.8 percent of counties with the highest child food insecurity rates are classified as rural, even though rural counties make up only 43.1 percent of all counties in the United States. [ix]  
  • SNAP households with children receive an average per person benefit of only $129 per month, or $1.43 per person per meal. This meager benefit level underscores the importance of protecting SNAP benefits from cuts.[x]
  • When SNAP benefits are included in family income, the average annual decline in the severity of child poverty from 2000 to 2009 was 21.3 percent.[xi]

"We know that the first years of a child's life are the most important. Research tells us that children from birth to the age of three, who do not receive proper nutrition, are at a significant risk of profound developmental impairments – both physical and mental. If SNAP funding is cut, the budget will be balanced at the expense of some of America's most vulnerable children," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "America is struggling to emerge from this time of economic hardship and our children should not be made to bear the burden. It is imperative that children are given every opportunity to grow into healthy, productive citizens."

Feeding America recently released a new report with updated data about the prevalence of food insecurity among children in the United States. Map the Meal Gap provides child food insecurity rates for every state and country across the country, underscoring the importance of protecting SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs in the Farm Bill. The data is available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.

[i] Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Administration.
[ii] Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States in 2011. Table 1B. ERR-125, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. September 2012. http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/884525/err141.pdf 
[iii] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2011. Table A. 1. November 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/MENU/Published/snap/FILES/Participation/2011Characteristics.pdf
[iv] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2011. Table A.23. November 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/SNAPPartHH.htm 
[v] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2011. Table A. 1. November 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/MENU/Published/snap/FILES/Participation/2011Characteristics.pdf
[vi] Brown, Larry J., Donald Shepard, Timothy Martin, John Orwat. The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger.  Sodexo Foundation. June 2007. http://www.sodexofoundation.org/hunger_us/Images/Cost%20of%20Domestic%20Hunger%20Report%20_tcm150-155150.pdf 
[vii] Brown, Larry J., Donald Shepard, Timothy Martin, John Orwat. The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger.  Sodexo Foundation. June 2007. http://www.sodexofoundation.org/hunger_us/Images/Cost%20of%20Domestic%20Hunger%20Report%20_tcm150-155150.pdf 
[viii] Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States in 2010. Table 2. ERR-125, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. September 2011. http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/121076/err125_2_.pdf 
[ix] Gundersen, Craig, Elaine Waxman, Emily Engelhard, Amy Satoh, and Namrita Chawla. Map the Mal Gap 2013: Child Food Insecurity.  Table 12. Feeding America, 2013.  http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/map-the-meal-gap/~/media/Files/a-map-2011/2011_mmg_exec_summary_final.ashx 
[x] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2011. Table 3.3. November 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/SNAPPartHH.htm 
[xi] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alleviating Poverty in the United States: The Critical Role of SNAP Benefits, Table 5. http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/478608/err132_1_.pdf

Contact:
Ross Fraser
1.312.641.6422

SOURCE Feeding America



RELATED LINKS
http://www.feedingamerica.org

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