Anti-Hunger Programs Critical in Battling Poverty
The US Department of Agriculture released a study earlier this week examining the impact that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has on fighting poverty. Of special note is the conclusion that SNAP lessens the prevalence, depth and severity of poverty. As the report summary points out, SNAP benefits were most effective in reducing the latter two—the depth and severity of poverty—by an average of 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively.
Especially heartening is the impact of SNAP benefits on child poverty, reducing its depth by more than 15 percent and its severity by over 20 percent. Children, the New York Times notes, make up approximately half of participants in the program—lending strong evidence as to its merits.
While the rate of success is heartening, the fact remains that nearly one in five Americans struggled to put food on the table during 2011. As we celebrate Passover, a time of togetherness over long, shared meals, I encourage us all to think about those for whom the thought of such a meal is painfully distant and unattainable. Hunger and poverty are terrible evils that no one should have to face alone; in fact, the rabbis taught that poverty is the worst of all sufferings. It is a pain no one should endure. It is encouraging to note that programs like SNAP help millions of Americans, but it will be more encouraging still when such programs are no longer needed by so many people.
Until then, we must all do more, including calling upon our members of Congress to defend anti-hunger programs like SNAP in this time of need.
Image courtesy United States Department of Agriculture