1 in 6 North Carolina households reported serious problems affording adequate nutritious food at some point last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today. Of the North Carolinians experiencing this food insecurity, some 5.5 percent experienced very low food security – meaning that one or more household members had to reduce their food intake at least some time during the year.
Overall, the number of Americans facing food insecurity in 2012 stayed roughly the same this year at 17.6 million households, nationwide.
One of the most powerful weapons against hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP). Some 1.7 million people in North Carolina participate in SNAP and use its benefits to help put a basic diet on the table each day.
SNAP benefits are modest, providing less than $1.33 per person, per meal. Even so, they have a significant impact in reducing poverty. In 2011 alone, SNAP helped to lift 5.7 million Americans, including 2.1 children out of poverty, based on the federal government’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.
Today’s data are yet another indication that the economy still has not yet fully recovered from the deep recession and that millions of families continue to struggle with job loss, reduced wages and poverty. Yet, as early as next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider legislation that would significantly cut SNAP by $40 billion over 10 years—potentially eliminating basic good assistance for up to 6 million people, including children, seniors, the unemployed, veterans and working families. These cuts would come on top of an already scheduled cut in benefits for every SNAP recipient beginning November 1, when a modest boost to benefits, included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help struggling Americans and boost the economy, expires.