Coping with the Current Economic Crisis
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota House approved deep cuts to health and welfare programs early Thursday after a protracted debate that began a day earlier.
The health budget bill would cut projected spending on health care and social services by $1.7 billion over the next two years, while bringing sweeping change to the state’s public health care programs.
Falsely claiming that the nation’s most important anti-hunger program — SNAP, formerly called food stamps — is experiencing “relentless and unsustainable growth,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan calls for converting it into a block grant.
A study released this week by the hunger relief organization Feeding America estimates that Minnesotans struggling with hunger collectively miss almost 100 million meals each year.
The study says, nationwide, hungry people would need $21.3 billion to fill the gap in their food budgets.
An interesting study out of NYC, which credits food stamps and low income tax programs with minimizing increases in the poverty rate during the height of the recession. Although it specifically looks at programs in New York, it speaks to the broad impact of Food Support and tax credit programs, as well as the outreach being done to ensure eligible households access these benefits.
The House Agriculture Committee endorsed a letter this week to Budget Chairman Paul Ryan arguing that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income Americans purchase food, would make a better target for cuts than automatic subsidies to farms.
The move comes as food prices are rising — the Department of Agriculture expects overall food prices to rise 3 percent to 4 perc
Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota House included new restrictions on welfare cards in a Health and Human Services omnibus bill released Monday.
Several Republican lawmakers have said tougher restrictions are needed to prevent welfare recipients from spending government money on alcohol and tobacco.
Anti-hunger advocates say the move to reduce food aid comes at just the wrong time. The Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger advocacy group, reported earlier this month that almost 1 in 5 Americans struggled to afford food for their families in 2010, with some of the highest rates of food hardship occurring just last fall.
A few decades ago, a food shelf was sometimes just that — a shelf with food on it. Perhaps it was a cupboard in a church basement.
But in recent years, food shelves have become such a central part of the way the nation fights hunger that it’s easy to forget they didn’t always exist.
In Minnesota, visits to food shelves jumped 62 percent between the fall of 2008 and last fall.
Researchers have long observed a relationship between food insecurity—difficulty providing food for all one’s family members, known as hunger in its most severe form—and obesity. The relationship is complicated. Food insecurity and obesity often coincide, occurring in the same communities, families, and individuals.