Unemployment Rate and Food Assistance Numbers go Hand-In-Hand

New information shows that the number of people on the government’s food assistance program coincides with the unemployment rate. More than one in seven Americans takes part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), that’s about 15.2 percent which is comparable to the percentage of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, about 14.3 percent.

In Michigan, 18 percent of our population takes part in SNAP (or FAP – the Food Assistance Program in Michigan). The U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that Michigan FAP numbers went down three percent in February of this year compared with February last year. Overall nationally, SNAP caseloads also went down from January to February of this year, but in comparing February 2012 numbers to February 2013, 41 states and the District of Columbia reported an increase in SNAP caseloads. Unemployment and underemployment in most states and efforts to enroll more eligible needy people in SNAP are factors in the trends. More than 47-million people were on SNAP this past February, down by 213,962 people from February of 2012; however, that number is an increase of 71.9 percent from five years ago.

Discussions during the Farm Bill mark up suggested too many people are on SNAP, but data from the Food Research and Action Center shows that one in four people eligible for SNAP go un-served. Implementing SNAP policies that improve program access, ensure staff capacity to process applications and mounting outreach campaigns to get the word out to the public can help communities maximize the federal recovery dollars available to help local families and businesses.

High rates of unemployment, underemployment and poverty are contributing to great need, need that won’t go away just because lawmakers decide to cut funding to SNAP in the Farm Bill.

Here’s the link to the report: http://frac.org/reports-and-resources/snapfood-stamp-monthly-participation-data/

Source: Press Release – Center for Civil Justice (CCJ)


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