Second Harvest Community Food Bank Blog
Cuts to Food Stamps and other Federal Nutrition Programs Will Put Over a Million Kansas and Missouri Residents At-Risk
This week the US Census Bureau released updated poverty, income and health coverage data indicating a growing income gap and continued financial struggles within the middle-class and with low income populations.
Americans across the country and in local communities struggle to maintain access to nutritious food. Locally, Second Harvest Community Food Bank continues to see a growing number of individuals and families having to make nearly impossible decisions between purchasing needed medications, paying their rent or mortgage and accessing food for themselves and their children. Given these challenging circumstances, it is difficult to justify the dramatic cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formally known as food stamps) as proposed by the House of Representatives. The $16 billion cut currently being debated as part of the House version of the Farm Bill would eliminate SNAP/food stamp nutrition assistance for two to three million individuals and an additional 500,000 would see their support cut by an average of $90 per month. Locally, nearly 74,000 Kansas and Missouri residents would lose food stamp support entirely. Children and seniors make up the largest demographics receiving SNAP/food stamp assistance.
Below is a summary of the Census Bureau findings:
- 60.4 million people, or 19.8 percent of all Americans, lived on less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level in 2010. This population is income-eligible for nutrition assistance programs like SNAP or food stamps. Currently, nearly 944,000 Missouri residents and 308,000 Kansas residents rely on SNAP to feed themselves and their families.
- 46.2 million Americans, or 15.1 percent of our population, lived in poverty, an increase of 2.6 million people from 2009. Children continue to be the poorest age group in the country.
- 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent of all children under age 18, were poor – a larger percentage than any other age group. This was an increase from 2009, when 15.5 million children (20.7 percent) lived in poverty.
- 7.4 million (9.9 percent) of all children under 18 lived in families with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
- 25.3 percent of related children under age six in families lived in poverty.
- 9.0 percent of all Americans 65 and over, or 3.5 million elderly, were poor.
- The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was 9.9 percent, 27.4 percent for blacks, 26.6 percent for Hispanics, and 12.1 percent for Asians.
- 49.9 million did not have health insurance, an increase from 49.0 million in 2009.
- Median income fell to $49,445.
To set the poverty level, the U.S. Census Bureau uses a set of income thresholds based on the Consumer Price Index. The income thresholds were originally set using the cost of a minimal diet (based on eating patterns in the 1950′s), multiplied by three. The federal poverty guideline for a family of four was $22,314 in 2010.
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