Census Data Makes Case for Protecting SNAP and Other Poverty Reduction Policies

September 17, 2013
by Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Today, the U.S. Census released poverty data for 2012 and as expected, it clearly makes the case for protecting anti-poverty programs. The data shows that in 2012, 46.5 million Americans were living in poverty (15.0 percent). This is essentially unchanged from 2011, but still 2.5 percent higher than before the Great Recession. 16.5 million children were living in poverty in 2012 (21.8 percent; 24.4 percent for children under 6), again not a statistically significant difference from 2011. However, nearly half of all related children in female-headed households were living in poverty (47.2 percent).

In addition, median income rose by a paltry $17 in 2012 to $51,017, compared to 2011. Also, the number of people without health insurance decreased from 15.7 percent in 2011 to 15.4 percent in 2012, but the number (48 million) was not a statistically significant change. We’ll have more about the poverty data release in the coming weeks (including where to find local data) but what this tells us is that we cannot be cutting programs like SNAP; programs that are keeping poverty rate down as . We need to be doing more, not less, to invest in services that lift and keep people out of poverty.

As we’ve been talking about for weeks now, the House is expected to vote on Thursday to cut $40 billion over the next ten years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). These cuts would have a terrible impact on seniors, children, the unemployed, and working families. Therefore, this is the week when members of the House of Representatives will vote to kick millions off SNAP or the week in which sanity prevails in Congress. It’s up to us to tell them which path to choose. Advocates from around the country are flooding Congress with calls TODAY, urging House members to vote NO on the House SNAP bill. Make sure you’re one of them.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call your representative’s office today and urge him/her to vote NO on the House SNAP bill. Use the toll free number (866) 456-8824. Once connected to your representative’s office, leave this message with the receptionist:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent calling from ________________. I am calling about the House bill that would cut SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, by $40 billion. When nearly 50 million Americans are food insecure, I find it unconscionable that Congress would make the problem worse by forcing nearly 4–6 million people off SNAP and denying 210,000 children access to free meals at school. This is fundamentally wrong. Please tell Rep. _________________ to vote NO on the House SNAP bill and instead work to end hunger in America by protecting and strengthening SNAP in any final Farm Bill or other legislation. Will you please give him/her that message today?

You can use our RESULTS Elected Officials page). Once you’ve called, amplify your message by also sending an e-mail about protecting SNAP using our online LTE alert to draft and submit a powerful letter today.

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