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Economic slump still affects food access, nutrition

Posted: Sept. 6, 2012 | Tags: What Went Wrong

As partisans rally behind their visions for the country at political conventions, the view of many Americans still remains bleak. Over the last two years, our What Went Wrong project has tracked the impact of the Great Recession and the Washington and Wall Street policies contributing to it. And now, despite improving economic conditions, a new report shows a record number of Americans are still feeding their families with government help. Nearly 47 million Americans, 15 percent of the population, used food stamps in June. The number of participants in the program, officially the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), has hovered above 46 million since September 2011, according to data released Tuesday.

The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service also released data on food security in 2011, showing numbers have been unchanged since 2008’s sharp increase. While the vast majority of Americans reported no trouble feeding themselves, nearly 15 percent reported some time period in which they lacked access to adequate and nutritious food in 2011. In a third of these households, families reported disrupted eating patterns or reduced intake.

The cost of the SNAP program has increased by a third since June 2009, attracting attention from deficit hawks. But the Economic Research Service said that of those households reporting food insecurity, 57 percent participated in some form of federal food assistance, whether SNAP or school meal programs, in 2011. 


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