Category Archives: Poverty

On Again, Off Again: “Churn” Among Food Stamp (SNAP) Participants

Source: Gregory Mills, Urban Institute, Metro Trends Blog, New Data Explained, July 13th, 2011

The Great Recession and the Not-So-Great Recovery have triggered enormous growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), once called Food Stamps. Unquestionably, the program has buffered the nation’s recessionary jolt and has averted food insecurity and material hardship. As of April 2011, more than 45 million persons–one in seven–are receiving SNAP benefits. With the recession officially ending in June 2009, some states–New Jersey, New Mexico, and Maryland–have seen subsequent growth rates in SNAP enrollment of more than 20 percent (for April 2010-April 2011).

Large cities are experiencing even higher SNAP growth, with year-over-year caseload increases topping 30 percent (for May 2009-May 2010) in such major metros as Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Wichita.

Senior Hunger: The Human Toll and Budget Consequences

Source: Older Americans Act, A Report from Chairman Bernard Sanders
Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, June 21, 2011

In the United States of America, no senior citizen should go hungry. Unfortunately, hunger among our elderly population is a growing crisis–hunger rates have more than doubled for poor seniors in the United States in recent years. According to a 2009 study, there are over 5 million seniors who face the threat of hunger, almost 3 million seniors who are at risk of going hungry, and almost 1 million seniors who do go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food.

It is important not only from a moral perspective but also from a financial perspective that every senior in America has access to adequate nutrition. Persistent hunger and malnutrition lead to multiple chronic diseases that result in expensive hospitalizations and nursing home or other long-term care placements.
See also:
Older Americans Act: More Should Be Done To Measure The Extent Of Unmet Need For Service
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-11-237, February 28, 2011

Claim Regarding High WIC Administrative Costs Is False

Source: Zoë Neuberger, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 14, 2011

The 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that the House Appropriations Committee approved on May 31 — and the full House is scheduled to take up June 14 — includes large cuts in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that would force the program to turn away 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and children next year. [1] One of the Committee’s justifications for this cut is its claim that over 40 percent of WIC expenditures go for program administration. The claim is flatly false: USDA data show that only 9 percent of federal WIC funds are spent on administrative costs. The Committee’s claim rests on errors in basic arithmetic and the mislabeling of core WIC services for nutrition education and breastfeeding support as though they were administrative costs, which they are not.
See also:
Ill-Informed Claim Does Not Justify WIC Cuts

Key Federal Food Program Helps 40 Million Americans

Source: Debra Miller, Council of State Governments, March 2011

From the summary:
Approximately 40 million Americans received monthly food stamp benefits in 2010, up from about 26 million in 2007. Increased unemployment during the recession was a major contributing factor to the growth in the number of Americans depending upon SNAP.
See also:
Excel tables

Basic Economic Security Tables Index for The United States

Source: Wider Opportunities for Women, 2010

From the press release:
As Congress works to meet the April 8 deadline for a final budget deal for fiscal year 2011, a new report on family economic security details the challenges that many Americans face in covering their basic expenses and the additional hardships families could suffer as a result of proposed budget cuts. The national Basic Economic Security Tables TM (BEST) Index, developed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a national organization that works to achieve economic independence for women and their families, finds that single workers need $30,012 a year – nearly twice the federal minimum wage – to cover basic expenses. Single-parents require nearly twice the income ($57,756) to support two children, while dual-income households with children require $67,920.

The 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines One Version of the [U.S.] Federal Poverty Measure

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2011

Federal Register Notice, January 20, 2011 — Full text
Prior Poverty Guidelines and Federal Register References Since 1982
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Further Resources on Poverty Measurement, Poverty Lines, and Their History
Computations for the 2011 Poverty Guidelines

Reaching Those In Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2008

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, December 2010

From the summary:
One important measure of a program’s performance is the ability to reach its target population. This report – the latest in an annual series – presents estimates of the percentage of eligible persons, by State, who participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during an average month in fiscal year 2008 and in the 2 previous fiscal years.

This report also presents estimates of State participation rates for eligible “working poor” individuals (persons in households with earnings) over the same period. Although SNAP provides an important support for working families, the working poor has participated at rates that are substantially below those for all eligible persons. The addition of State-by-State information on participation among the working poor enables a comparison of these rates to the overall participation rates.

Nationally, the SNAP participation rate among all eligible persons was 67 percent (Leftin, 2010) in fiscal year 2008.1 The participation rate for eligible working poor individuals was significantly lower (in a statistical sense) at 54 percent.

State of Working America 2011

Source: Economic Policy Institute, February 14, 2011

The State of Working America has been the Economic Policy Institute’s flagship publication since 1988. The comprehensive economic data that has in the past been in book form is now available on this Web site for the first time in a searchable and highly user-friendly format. The data will be more accessible than ever before to academics, policy makers, the media, and the public. Unlike in the past, this year’s The State of Working America will not be published in book form (the next biennial print edition will appear in January 2013).

The State of Working America Web site presents data in eight broad issue areas: income, economic mobility, wages, jobs, wealth, poverty, health, and international comparisons. Providing a comprehensive examination of critical trends and economic measurements, the data on this site is presented to give readers a deep understanding of the effect of the economy on low- and middle-income American workers and their families.