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Forcing poor Americans to go hungry

Lee A. Daniels | 12/2/2013, 2:29 a.m.
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

For example, the monthly reductions in allotments that took place this month loom larger given that eligibility for food stamps is limited to those at or below the poverty line: a gross income of $15,030 for a two-person household, to $23,050 for a family of four. The CBPP report calculated that the Nov. 1 cut reduces the average amount recipients have to spend on each meal by 10 cents – from $1.50 per meal to $1.40 per meal. For a family of four, the cut amounts to the loss of 21 or 22 meals a month.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, most SNAP recipients work, but at low-wage jobs that after paying for their rent and such other necessities as transportation, leave them out of enough money to buy enough food to eat. In 2007, half of all food stamp users lived in the suburbs, according to an analysis of census data by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Now, it’s 55 percent. More than 900,000 of those enrolled are veterans. The 21 million children in households that get food stamps constitute a quarter of all American children.

In other words, they’re ordinary Americans who deserve our compassion and government aid because they have contributed, are contributing, or, regarding the children, have the potential to contribute to the larger society. In that regard, the ounce of prevention of funding the nation’s food stamp program at a level that properly responds to the need is the far wiser course to follow.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.