New USDA Data Show One in Six Americans in Households Struggling Against Hunger
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Adach, 202.986.2200 x3018
Washington, D.C. – September 5, 2012 – New polling data (pdf) released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) show overwhelming majorities opposing SNAP cuts. The majorities are as strong as other polls in 2010 and early 2012, despite several intervening months of criticism of the program and false charges by conservative Members of Congress, conservative media outlets, and others.
In particular, when asked “[t]his year, Congress will consider cutting billions of dollars from the food stamp program in an effort to reduce federal spending. Do you favor cutting food assistance to low-income families and seniors, or do you think that is the wrong way to reduce government spending,” 75 percent say it is the wrong way to reduce spending. That number was 77 percent in January 2012 and 71 percent in November 2010.
This poll comes on the same day as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released new data showing more than 50.1 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2011. Previously, in 2010, 48.8 million Americans were in food insecure households. The number of people in households “with very low food security” – households with the deepest struggles, regularly skipping meals, or cutting the amounts eaten below what is needed – also increased, rising from 16 million in 2010 to more than 16.8 million in 2011. These increases leave far too many hungry Americans, even while some in Congress propose billions in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
Other noteworthy findings in the USDA study were:
Seventy-nine percent of respondents to the FRAC poll support spending more (55 percent) federal money or about the same amount (24 percent) to address the problem of hunger, compared to only 17 percent who say the federal government should be spending less. Support for the SNAP program specifically and opposition to SNAP cuts are high among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; higher among women than men; high in all major geographic regions; and high among all age groups, especially among those aged 18 to 34. The poll of 1,011 adults was conducted by Hart Research Associates from August 23-26, 2012.
“Today’s food insecurity data and polling data show that proposals for SNAP cuts are a ‘two-fer’ of wrong thinking – a bad policy idea and a very unpopular idea. Americans oppose cuts to SNAP, and they believe government should – and must – do more to address hunger,” said FRAC President Jim Weill.
Both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee versions of the Farm Bill contain cuts to SNAP. The Senate plan for the Farm Bill includes a cut of more than $4 billion over 10 years to the program, achieved largely by reducing SNAP benefits for an estimated 500,000 households by $90/month. The House Agriculture Committee bill would make these same cuts plus end benefits totally for a minimum of 1.8 million people, cutting the program by $16 billion.
“With one in six Americans struggling against hunger, it is unacceptable that so many in Congress want to cut SNAP and harm the most vulnerable among us – seniors, working families, and children. We urge Congress to reject these cuts and preserve the strong structure of SNAP,” said Weill.
Visit FRAC's website at www.frac.org for ongoing analysis of the food insecurity numbers and for full polling results.
About the USDA Report
Since 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture, using data from surveys conducted annually by the Census Bureau, has released estimates of the number of people in households that are food insecure. Food insecure households are those that are not able to afford an adequate diet at all times in the past 12 months. The report also includes food insecurity rates for each state, but for states it uses three-year averages to give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing food insecurity. Experts agree that the Census/USDA measure of food insecurity is a conservative one, with the result that only households experiencing substantial food insecurity are so classified.
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