Monday, May 21, 2007

The Challenge

Living on Food Stamps. Sometimes there's a lot of month left at the end of the money. Many researchers now refer not to hunger, but to “food insecurity,” defined by the Census Bureau as “not always having access to enough food to meet basic needs.” It is widespread. The USDA estimated that more than 35 million Americans lived in food insecure households in 2005, which were insecure on average for six months during the year. According to Second Harvest, a national network of emergency food providers, in 2005 over 25 million Americans used a soup kitchen (which provide eat-in prepared meals), a food pantry (which provide bags of free groceries to take home), or ate in a shelter supplied by their food distributors over the course of the year. That’s about 4 million separate people in any given week; at least 9 percent of the population that couldn’t afford food. It’s almost 15 percent in big cities. About one-third were children, and 11 percent were elderly. One-third of the non-elderly adults in need were employed at the time of their survey, and about half of all food recipients had income above 130 percent of the poverty line, making them poor enough to need help but probably not poor enough to qualify for food stamps. About one-third did receive food stamps (although nationwide only about half of all those who are eligible actually receive them; in some cities it’s as low as one in four), but they reported that their monthly supply lasted only about 2.5 weeks

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