Feeding America Stresses Crucial Need For SNAP Benefits For Children
CHICAGO, July 24, 2012 – Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, is deeply concerned that the Farm Bill recently approved by the House Agriculture Committee would increase child hunger. The bill cuts $16.5 billion from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP), which provides food relief to low-income individuals, nearly half of whom are children.
Proposed cuts would remove two to three million individuals from the SNAP program; an additional 500,000 households would have their SNAP benefits cut by $90 per month; and nearly 300,000 children would lose their free school lunch meals because of coordination with their family’s SNAP benefits. Feeding America is especially worried about the effect these cuts would have on the 1 in 5 children who live at risk of hunger in our nation. [i]
SNAP, previously called the Food Stamp Program, is a crucial safety net for low-income children who often are at risk of hunger. About 49 percent of SNAP households include children, and these households receive 71 percent of all SNAP benefits. [ii]
Feeding America’s network of food banks serves nearly 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 2010, 47 percent of SNAP recipients were children under the age of 18. This means nearly 19 million children relied on SNAP benefits. [iii]
- 75 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly or disabled person. These households receive 84 percent of the total dispersed SNAP benefits.
- Food insecure children often struggle to thrive academically and physically. They often have trouble focusing in school and are more likely to repeat a grade. Food insecure children are more likely to get sick and are 30 percent more likely to have a history of hospitalization. [iv]
- Households with children (20.2%) are more likely to be food insecure as households with no children (11.7%). [v]
- Child food insecurity is more pervasive in rural areas; over 60 percent of counties with the highest child food insecurity rates are classified as rural, even though rural counties make up only 43 percent of all counties in the United States. [vi]
- SNAP households with children receive an average per person benefit of only $127 per month, or $1.41 per person per meal. [vii]
- 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.[viii]
“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.