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November 28th, 2009:

Food Stamps Usage

Today 1 in 8 Americans and 1 in 4 children is on food stamps. We have some of the most productive agriculture in the world, which translates into some of the lowest food prices. Any change that decreases our productivity is going to have to include some way to protect those who already don’t have enough to eat.

At the same time the status quo isn’t acceptable. Food stamps are a great program (for fighting hunger but it’s also one of the two most effective ways of stimulating the economy along with increasing unemployment benefits), but families often still run out of money before the end of the month. I propose three key areas to work on:

  • Increase funding for the food stamps program to make more eligible and give them enough money to make it through the month
  • Increase agricultural productivity, this will bring down prices somewhat domestically, and also help fight hunger around the world
  • Get government funding to train people in how to cook simple meals (things with lots of rice, dried beans, and pasta) and even buy hot plates and a few pots and pans for those most in need. The cost of homemade rice and bean burritos is a lot less frozen food and potato chips. Some people still won’t have time to put together their own meals, but for some, such training and equipment could make a HUGE difference.

I got thinking about this after seeing this cool/frightening graphic from the nytimes about the huge increase in food stamp usage in this country.