The U.S. Census has released survey results indicating that 20 percent of U.S. children were reliant on food stamps last year — that's one in five kids, or 16 million children throughout the entire country. Any way you slice it, the number is simply massive, signifying a marked increase in families who rely on government services to merely get by. According to the Southern Education Foundation, more than 50 percent of children attending public schools qualify for school lunch programs that include free and discounted meals, which is the highest the percentage has been in the past 50 years.
When ranking poverty affecting children on a global scale, the United States fares even worse. Among a list of 35 countries described as "economically advanced," America is ranked 34th in child poverty according to a UN study of child poverty, with 23.1 percent of children living with family that is facing economic difficulties in the country. The only country that fared worse was Romania, with 25.5 percent of its children being raised in impoverished households. The news comes shortly after it was announced that a food stamp work requirement waiver is set to expire in 2016, leaving at least one million currently qualifying recipients no longer eligible for the program, which was renamed as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008.
The waiver staved off an assistance stipulation limiting SNAP benefits to just three months for 18- to 50-year-old recipients who are unemployed, without children, and who don't claim disability. Already, Maine has enacted the new policy, kicking off thousands of its citizens who no longer meet the requirements. Eligibility is dependent on working or volunteering at least 20 hours. Enrolling in work-training programs satisfies similar requirements, though very few states offer such services.
Just seven years ago, nearly 9 million children were on food stamps. Despite the alarming rise in SNAP benefit recipients, funding has been cut by $8.6 billion, spread out over the next 10 years thanks to a farm bill signed into law last year. The farm bill is said to only affect 15 states by attempting to eliminate a loophole that included utility costs in deducing household disposable income even when many households were not responsible for utility payments in the least bit. Still, it is estimated that 850,000 households will be affected by the loss of the loophole.
It's not all bad news in our post-recession country. While poverty has statistically increased in the United States, violent crime, luckily has not. According to a recent report from the FBI, there has been a 38 percent drop in violent crime around the country from 1992 to 2011, but though our nation might seem safer, let's not forget the danger in our people growing hungrier.
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