Food insecurity remains a critical issue for millions of Americans. Families in every county in America depend on food stamps for their basic survival. The recent misguided attack led by the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Republican colleagues to slash the food stamp program, the last social safety net provided by the government, is a callous act against those who depend on it so dearly.
An alarming 14.5 percent of Americans go hungry, up from 11 percent one decade ago. Food stamp participation varies with economic performance — the 2008 recession increased food stamp dependency by 70 percent. The increase is a rather unfortunate remnant of the recession that the United States is still clawing its way out of.
A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture paints an even more depressing picture. A growing number of Americans have become dependent on food stamps to achieve a basic level of sustenance. Even with food stamps, many families still go hungry. Only last year, 3.9 million households weren’t able to provide adequate nutrition for their children. Cutting assistance during pivotal developmental stages can have long-term health implications.
According to a recent piece in The New York Times, 49 million Americans live in “food insecure” households, i.e., they are not getting enough to eat. This is a staggering statistic. But perhaps what is most staggering is the quasi-legal, corporate term “food insecure” — a phrase that calls for a serious rereading of “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell.
Although Cantor is wrong in seeking to severely cut food stamp assistance, perhaps there is a larger discussion to be had about fiscal accountability. No one disagrees that there is an entitlement issue. However, cutting programs which are not just safety nets — another bureaucratic phrase — but lifelines for millions of people, is not the most prudent way of solving this systemic issue. Instead, Republicans and Democrats can address the issue of entitlements by working together to make sensible compromises on entitlement reform. With lagging unemployment and a stagnant job market, this is not the time to cut the food stamp program, a final resort for many Americans. There are more conscientious methods of tackling our growing spending and debt problems.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 10 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]