A report from the Raleigh-based Budget and Tax Center says that North Carolina ranks fifth among states in food insecurity and that cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, mean many people face the holiday season without enough food.
A temporary increase in SNAP funding that began in 2009 ended this month. In addition, Congress is considering additional cuts to the nutrition program in the Farm Bill.
According to the report about 1.6 million low-income people in North Carolina receive SNAP benefits. Two-thirds of them are in families with children.
“At a time when jobless workers outnumber available jobs by nearly three-to-one in North Carolina, further cuts to SNAP is the wrong approach to fighting hunger and will make life harder for North Carolinians who already face difficult tradeoffs between food and other essential needs,” said Tazra Mitchell, a policy analyst at the Budget and Tax Center and the author of the report. “Until public policies are put in place to close the job shortage, raise wages, and spread the economic gains broadly, keeping a robust safety net system is required to alleviate food insecurity and keep poverty in check.”
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The ranking was based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Mitchell said North Carolina ranked behind Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama.
She also said that the federal survey data showed that food insecurity had increased in North Carolina since 2000. The USDA defines “food insecure” households as those that don’t have consistent, dependable access to enough food.
Food stamp funding is one of the biggest differences remaining in the Farm Bill. The Republican-controlled House passed a bill that would cut food stamps by $39 billion out of a projected $800 billion over 10 years. It also added that able-bodied adults without children should be required to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week to receive the federal assistance.
The Democratic-held Senate’s farm bill also would cut food stamps by $4.5 billion over a decade but doesn’t add work requirements.