[1/9/17] DIANE WILEY– In 2009, nearly 11 percent of the American population was receiving food stamp benefits, which are offered to those who fall below a certain income level or who live with disabilities. With a total American population of roughly 300 million people, over 33 million individuals were receiving help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP for short.
According to the website Snap to Health, “SNAP eligibility rules require that participants be at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. Recent studies show that 44% of all SNAP participants are children (age 18 or younger)… .”
In 2016, the number of individuals receiving SNAP benefits increased to more than 44 million people. This is a 32 percent increase over 2009. With the unemployment rate showing a drop from nearly 10 percent in 2009 to under 5 percent at the close of 2016, we have to wonder why so many are in need of assistance. If the job market is booming as Obama claims it is, why are more and more people needing to access government assistance benefits? With an exponential rise in the cost of living and a stagnant minimum wage, even those working multiple jobs cannot afford to eat.
It is also reported that only 75 percent of those eligible actually apply and receive benefits, meaning that as of 2009, 11 million people that would qualify were not participating in SNAP. With today’s population growth, that would equal nearly 19 million people that regularly go hungry under the Obama administration.
In addition to the increasing number of families receiving food stamps, President Obama also signed a bill in 2014 cutting funding for the program. This will lead to over 850,000 households losing almost $90 in benefits per month for the next 10 years. If a family’s household income remains the same, while cost of living increases and benefits go down, this will lead to a larger portion of our population ending up on the street. Loss of housing leads to a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break as children in these situations often miss more school than those with a more stable family income. With all of the odds stacked against them, many of these children tend to drop out of school to work and provide financial support to their families. The National Education Association reports that working youth contribute nearly 22 percent to their family’s income, while roughly 10 percent provide more than half of the financial means of their families. With these youngsters having dropped out of high school, they are unable to get financially fulfilling jobs, thus leading them to need welfare themselves, completing the harsh cycle of poverty.
This looks to be a major failure on the part of President Obama and his administration in improving the lives of the American people and providing opportunities for our country’s youth.