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1 in 4 Kids are Getting Food Stamps

By Sierra Black |

food stampsThe Thanksgiving feast left most of us stuffed. For one in four American kids, though, just getting food on the table every day is enough of a struggle that the government is stepping in to help.

The New York Times ran an article this weekend looking at food stamp use. They found food stamps currently feeding one in four kids, and one in eight Americans overall. This is just a few weeks after a different report showed that half of America’s kids will rely on food stamps at some point during their childhoods.

Since the recession began, families have been falling back on food stamps in ever greater numbers. Right now, the program is adding about 20,000 people a day to its rolls.

Even today, food stamps are only going to about two thirds of those who are eligible for the program.

Layoffs and spiralling housing prices have made food stamps commonplace in once affluent suburbs. Areas hit by the foreclosure crisis and factory closures have seen the biggest spike in demand.

With so many families relying on the aid, the social stigma attached to accepting it is falling away. I remember the horrors of being a “free lunch kid” in elementary school. For the sake of all the school kids getting federal food aid, I’m glad to hear it’s become more socially acceptable. In the past, some families have gone hungry rather than take the help.

Has your family needed food stamps this year? Have you noticed them being used in your supermarket? What do you think can be done about the surge in need?

Photo: Clementine Gallot

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About Sierra Black

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Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “1 in 4 Kids are Getting Food Stamps

  1. Citizen Mom says:

    What can be done? Write to your reps and tell them that helping people in need is a good use of our tax dollars since programs like this are one of the first to get cut when times are tough – or when people start clamoring for government to get out of their lives.
    Go to the NYT’s article and click on the map of the US that shows which states have had an increase in food stamp use. It’s very interesting.

  2. snarky mama says:

    We would qualify for food stamps, but haven’t needed to actually apply for them. While the extra $495/month my family of 5 would qualify for would be totally, awesomely helpful, I would not feel right about availing myself of this option when we can afford to pay our bills and buy food on our own. Other people need it more than I.

    In my state, food stamps are actually issued as a debit-type card. I really wouldn’t know if the person in line in front of me was actually using food stamps unless I happened to see them take the card out of their wallet. The schools use a similar system for free lunches, wherein all students use a school-issued debit card to pay for their lunches. Since all of the cards are identical, no one knows if the parents loaded the card, or if the school did.

  3. Anonimon says:

    In our community a family of 6, the same size as ours, would receive twice what we spend a month on groceries. TWICE! Even though I agree that it is important to help families in need, it is equally important to make sure that money is being spent wisely.

  4. Lisa says:

    Don’t you think its a problem that people are having kids they can’t afford? Yes, I know that some of these folks were doing fine and lost their jobs and can’t pay the bills now. They should be helped. But what about those folks who got pregnant at 18 or 21, couldn’t afford the kids and kept having them?

    My husband and I waited until we were in our mid 30s to have kids because we were responsible. When we lost everything due to a recession, we didn’t get help from the government; we never qualified. But we have to pay for the irresponsible folks who get to have larger families earlier on our nickel.

    That isn’t reasonable.

  5. Lucky says:

    What it comes down to for me is do I take the food stamps and buy fresh veggies and free range meat, or, do I hold back and feed my family spam? Do we put juice in the sippy because we’re going through the milk too fast?

  6. jenny tries too hard says:

    Those aren’t the only options, Lucky, it’s a bit dishonest to frame it that way. Juice isn’t much cheaper than milk, and it’s a lot more expensive than tap water. There’s also the choice to forgo an internet/cable subscription or take on a second job, etc. etc. Oh, and as meats go, yes, Spam is cheaper than free range but not cheaper per ounce than buying and cooking a whole conventionally grown turkey or chicken. I try my darnedest not to judge folks who need a little help with foodstamps, but it irks me quite a bit to see it presented as though not taking food stamps means that poor people eat Spam and other junk food. Spam is not cheaper than canned tuna or peanut butter, or beans, or any number of other healthy foods that can be purchased for very little. If you get enough food stamps to buy free-range meats that cost 40-70% more than conventional meat, the state is wasting its money.

    I was also going to point out that “stigma” for kids is being dealt with pretty well, but snarkymama beat me to it.

  7. [...] economic downturn has meant one in four kids is on food stamps in the U.S., and countless are going out in the winter weather without a coat. So kid clothing [...]

  8. we can always avail of food stamps if we can’t afford great food’–

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