November 29, 2008


Chief Organizer According to Jane Black writing in [the] Washington Post, we are also poised to set a new record in food stamp utilization by exceeding 30,000,000 participants for the first time this month. The previous record was set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina displaced a million refugees from one of the poorest cities in the United States. . .

Another 10 million families might be getting the benefits if all the eligibles were enrolled. Participation rates in recent years have actually been falling, though on the ground many would say that they were pushed, since this was hardly an accident in most states. It makes a difference, not only to lower income families, but to the entire economy, especially the economics of cities where many lower income families live.

Black quotes Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's that "1 spent on food stamp benefits generates $1.73 of economic activity" This kind of multiplier affect trumps even the amounts received by extending unemployment insurance (another area where participation is way below the mark) or even state fiscal relief. Congress has failed to really do what is necessary to maintain the purchasing power of food stamps against the significant inflation in food prices in the US (and around the world) which have exceeded 6.5% and are expected to hit 8% by the end of the year. USDA only adjusts food stamps against inflation once annually and did so recently (September), so we are probably already below the water line.


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