November 18th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
Cuts to SNAP benefits in November 2013 have left 47 million people with $36 a month less to spend on food. That cut (based on a family of four) is a 5% reduction to an already stretched budget.
The February 2014 presidential approval of the Farm Bill entails an $8 billion cut from SNAP over the next 10 years. This means 850,000 families will see an average $90 monthly drop in their food budget.
Millions of others who don't qualify for benefits, but who still struggle to feed their families, are finding the aisles of their local food banks more crowded with fellow shoppers than ever before.
We asked our readers, via our comments and Facebook, to share their strategies for making the most of their limited food funds. Here's what they had to say.
November 13th, 2013
12:15 PM ET
Marisa Miller is a married mother of two who never imagined she'd find herself relying on the kindness of others to feed her family. As a former chef, her life was filled with abundant food, and her husband had a lucrative job. Between the two of them, an organic, grass-fed, sustainable and delicious life seemed assured.
But things changed. Her husband left that job to pursue a career in a field about which he was passionate, and in the height of the recession, his salary was cut by 60%. The family became food insecure in a matter of months.
Their household income is just above the qualifying levels to receive SNAP, WIC or any other kind of assistance. After bills, Miller has just $100 left over for food, gas, clothing, band-aids, toilet paper and other necessities. She supplements her grocery-buying with trips to her local Sacramento, California, food pantry and an awful lot of thoughtful, creative cooking and meal planning.
"No one is living off Top Ramen in this house," Miller told Eatocracy in an e-mail exchange.
Here's what she had to say about dignity, practicality and perception when you're struggling to feed your family.
November 11th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
On November 12, Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts CNN Dialogues, focusing on the issues of food security and food deserts in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the nearly 16 million children who spend their days and nights hungry. Learn more about the series here. Panelist Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Georgia and Empire State South in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a judge on the current season on Top Chef, and author of "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen."
Today is Veterans Day and I would like to thank my grandfather for his sacrifice. I don’t think he was fighting for his individual rights when he lost his life during World War II, riding in a jeep far into enemy territory in Occupied France. He was fighting for a greater idea of freedom that defines modern democracies, a collective freedom that allows us individual liberty. First we succeed together, which gives us the allowance to succeed as individuals.
When we build a society, as we continue to do every day, we need to think of everyone. Success for the lower and middle class in recent years has been made difficult to attain as the American dream has become an elusive goal. Stacked against success are many pitfalls that seem to keep the poor, well, poor. High interest rate loans, lack of viable employment, housing-market collapses: all of these things have not only kept people from rising out of poverty but have driven more people into it.
The poverty rate for children in my state of Georgia is 26%, a figure that makes me queasy. Cuts to programs to assist those in need make me angry. It’s a divisive issue but I prefer to be on the side of trying to help those in need. I just firmly believe in this statement: We are better off as a country when all of our kids have access to nutritious food.
October 31st, 2013
12:45 PM ET
Editor's note: Bob Aiken is chief executive of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to feed the hungry through a national network of member food banks and also fosters efforts to end hunger.
In the last few weeks, the media has been ablaze with news of the government shutdown, the debt limit and health care reform. Missing from most public debate, however, is the cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits that will take place on November 1 and will affect every one of the more than 47 million Americans who depend on the program to help meet their basic nutritional needs.
When the changes are implemented, everyone enrolled in the SNAP program will see their benefits cut. For example, a family of four that qualifies for the maximum monthly benefit will lose $36 a month - that's a 5% reduction.