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The Food Stamp Cut And American Priorities

Food stamp benefits cut and Congress considers even deeper cuts. We’ll hear the debate over national priorities, hunger and character.

In this Sept. 11, 2010 file photo, Temeka Williams, right, of Detroit, uses her EBT/Bridge Card tokens for a purchase from Elizabeth and Gary Lauber from Sweet Delights at the Farmer's Market in Detroit. The temporary increase in food stamps also know as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program expires Oct. 31, meaning for millions of Americans, the benefits that help them put food on the table every month won’t stretch as far as they have for the past four years. (AP)

In this Sept. 11, 2010 file photo, Temeka Williams, right, of Detroit, uses her EBT/Bridge Card tokens for a purchase from Elizabeth and Gary Lauber from Sweet Delights at the Farmer’s Market in Detroit. The temporary increase in food stamps also know as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program expires Oct. 31, meaning for millions of Americans, the benefits that help them put food on the table every month won’t stretch as far as they have for the past four years. (AP)

Food Stamps, the SNAP program, is the largest US anti-hunger program.  It’s designed to help the poor buy food.  It’s hardly luxurious.  The average household receiving SNAP benefits had an annual income of $8,800 in 2010.  SNAP benefits have covered $1.80 per meal.  Now, after cuts on Friday, that’s headed down to less than $1.40 a meal.  SNAP is controversial because it has grown.  Enrollment has doubled since 2004.  The cost has tripled.  Of course, we had an epic recession.  But the heat is on.  Up next On Point:  Food stamps – SNAP – American hunger and American priorities.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Eli Saslow, staff writer at the Washington Post; author of a four-part series of stories on food stamps. (@EliSaslow)

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democratic Congressman from Oregon’s Fourth District. (@RepPeterDeFazio)

Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. (@MTannerCato)

Eldar Shafir, professor of pyschology and public affairs at Princeton University, co-author of “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Hard Work — “The congressman had been called a “starvation expert” by analysts on TV and a “monster” by colleagues in the House of Representatives. Protesters had visited his offices carrying petitions demanding he resign. And now, six months into his crusade to overhaul the food stamp program, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) departed the Capitol to address his most wary audience yet: the people whose government benefits he hoped to curtail.”

The Daily Beast: The Republicans’ Food Stamp Fraud: It’s Not About Austerity — ” Its size fluctuates with the economy—when more people are working, the number of those on food stamps goes down. This, of course, isn’t one of those times. So right now the SNAP program, as it’s called, is serving nearly 48 million people in 23 million households. The average monthly individual benefit is $133, or about $4.50 a day. In 2011, 45 percent of recipients were children. Forty-one percent live in households where at least one person works. More than 900,000 are veterans. Large numbers are elderly or disabled or both.”

Northwest Watchdog: Oregon’s DeFazio protests food stamp cuts — “DeFazio, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s fourth congressional district, is protesting proposed cuts in the U.S. House to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low income families buy food, according to KVAL. A huge farm bill passed by the Senate on Monday includes $760.5 billion for SNAP, nearly 80 percent of the entire bill. The House is proposing steeper cuts to SNAP.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” By Eldar Shafir And Sendhil Mullainathan

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