16 Percent of Missouri Households Struggling with Hunger, New Polling Data Show Broad Support for SNAP and Opposition to Cuts
Jefferson City, Missouri – September 6, 2012 – More than one in six households in Missouri struggled with hunger on average in the years 2009-2011, according to new data released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its annual report on food insecurity. Nationally, more than 50.1 million people lived in households that were food insecure in 2011. These numbers show that there are far too many hungry Americans, even while some in Congress propose billions in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
New polling data released yesterday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) show overwhelming majorities opposing SNAP cuts. The majorities are as strong as in other polls in 2010 and early 2012, despite several intervening months of criticism of the program and false charges by conservative Members of Congress, conservative media outlets, and others. In particular, when asked “[t]his year, Congress will consider cutting billions of dollars from the food stamp program in an effort to reduce federal spending. Do you favor cutting food assistance to low-income families and seniors, or do you think that is the wrong way to reduce government spending,” 75 percent say it is the wrong way to reduce spending. That number was 77 percent in January 2012 and 71 percent in November 2010.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents to the FRAC poll support spending more (55 percent) federal money or about the same amount (24 percent) to address the problem of hunger, compared to only 17 percent who say the federal government should be spending less. Support for the SNAP program specifically and opposition to SNAP cuts are high among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; higher among women than men; high in all major geographic regions; and high among all age groups, especially among those aged 18 to 34. The poll of 1,011 adults was conducted by Hart Research Associates from August 23-26, 2012.
“With more than one in six Missouri residents struggling against hunger, it is unacceptable that so many in Congress have proposed cuts to SNAP that would harm the most vulnerable among us – seniors, working families, and children,” said Stu Murphy with Missouri Association for Social Welfare. “Americans oppose cuts to SNAP, and they believe government should – and must – do more to address hunger.”
Both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee versions of the Farm Bill contain cuts to SNAP. The Senate plan for the Farm Bill includes a cut of more than $4 billion over 10 years to the program, achieved largely by reducing SNAP benefits for an estimated 500,000 households by $90/month. The House Agriculture Committee bill would make these same cuts plus end benefits totally for a minimum of 1.8 million people, cutting the program by $16 billion.
Among the 16 percent of households in Missouri considered to be food insecure during the 2009-2011 period, 6.7 percent were considered to have “very low food security.” People that fall into this USDA category had more severe problems, experiencing deeper hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis for both adults and children.
“The high numbers of Missourians struggling to put food on the table reminds us of why we must keep the safety-net strong. Our work will not be done until every eligible Missourian is participating in the food stamp program,” said Murphy.
Full results of the poll are available on FRAC’s website.