Tens of Millions Heading Toward a Hunger Cliff

Psychologists tell us that when we dream of falling off a cliff it’s because we’re feeling a loss of control in our lives.

Anxiety and fear may be taking such a toll on our minds that we feel we’re losing our grip on whatever we’ve been counting on to save us from a major life problem.

When someone falls off a cliff in real life, it usually does not end well. Even if that person survives, they will probably lose their independence due to injury.

So, it makes sense that economists are calling an upcoming reduction in food assistance a “hunger cliff.” Suddenly being unable to acquire enough food to sustain yourself and your family would cause considerable fear and anxiety. As well as a lack of independence and self-reliance. 

Food Assistance Benefits Will Be Slashed

This month, 32 of the 50 states will slash food assistance benefits for its residents. These cuts will affect more than 30 million people currently enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it’s starting to get a lot of media attention.

Among those 32 states are California (5.1 million people on SNAP) and Texas (3.6 million). These two states have the highest number of people using food assistance programs. 

Ellen Vollinger is the SNAP director at the Food Research & Action Center, an anti-hunger advocacy group. She said, “This hunger cliff is coming to the vast majority of states, and people will on average lose about $82 of SNAP benefits a month. That is a stunning number.”

Inflation Makes Cuts a Double Whammy

Why is this happening now and why is this a double whammy? It’s happening now because at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, emergency allotments helped increase food assistance benefits. 

But according to a provision in the 2023 Omnibus spending bill signed into law a few months ago, those emergency allotments were set to end in March 2023. And that’s where we find ourselves now. 

As to why it’s a double whammy, one need only look at inflation and soaring food prices. Especially for staples such as bread, milk, and eggs.

It’s already a challenge for many Americans to put food on the table. People who’ve never been on food assistance before, as well as those existing solely on Social Security, now need that support due to inflation. 

With the food assistance cuts, a family of four will see their monthly benefit slashed by approximately $328. For elderly Americans, who already receive the minimum monthly benefit, their SNAP benefit would plummet from $281 to perhaps as little was $23 per month. Talk about a cliff fall! 

Better Economy? Doesn’t Seem Like It

What about the other 18 states? They actually ended their emergency allotments early, due to the economy strengthening.

The numbers may indicate the economy is getting better. The unemployment rate, for example, is as low as it’s been in more than 50 years. But that doesn’t help people in need deal with out-of-control inflation. 

That’s why nationally there were 42 million people on SNAP as of last October. That’s 6% higher than in 2020 during the height of Covid. Food insecurity has always been an issue for some Americans, but that number is growing at an alarming pace. Food assistance cut will worsen it.

Many folks on SNAP are employed, but are unable to make ends meet. “What sometimes gets missed… is that so many SNAP households are employed, but often employed at low-wage levels,” Vollinger said. “They aren’t in jobs that are family-sustaining so they still qualify for SNAP.” 

Food Banks Feeling the Crunch

No wonder there has been an increased demand on food banks all over the nation in recent months.

Erin Pulling is CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies. She told CBS News, “People are having to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent. We are seeing more people than ever needing help with food assistance.”

Andrew Cheyne is managing director of public policy for GRACE, a nonprofit run by the Daughters of Charity for St. Vincent de Paul in Nevada. He predicts that people in rural areas will be hit even harder than most by food assistance cuts.

“We have so many households who simply aren’t going to know that this is happening,” he said. “They’re going to go to the grocery store and expect to have money in their account and not be able to buy the food they need to feed their families.” 

‘We Barely Make It Now’

Because food banks are only able to supply about 11% of the food SNAP does, “It’s simply not possible to make up that difference,” Cheyne added.

People have to eat, and because unhealthy food is less expense than healthy food, it’s inevitable that health issues will increase for those with less money. 

As one woman whose family is about to be affected by food assistance cuts told Business Insider, “We don’t know how we’re going to make it. We barely make it now.” 

Millions of Americans are hungry, and due to food assistance cuts, they’re now closing in on a hunger cliff. Learning how to grow their own healthy food in order to have an emergency food supply may be the only way to back away from that cliff and start enjoying self-sufficiency. 

Grow Your Self-Reliance in Your Own Backyard

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  • Gertraud H Hammer - March 07, 2023

    Hello. I just read your comment on SNAP and plant your own food. I also receive SNAP. I only have my Social Security income. I’m 82 years old and have many health issues. I have excruciating back pain. My pain level is at a constant 8. It’s impossible for me to plant my own garden. As soon as I stand up, my pain hits me full force. My income puts me in the poverty zone. Where I live in Texas, the ground is very poor. Nothing grows for me. I tried when I was younger. I could not afford to buy good dirt. Therefore, it’s not possible for me to grow my own food supply. My oldest daughter lives with me, but her health is as bad as mine. I so wished that I could plant my own food, When I lived in Ohio, I grew my own little garden. Had lettuce, green onions, carrots, and several more items planted. They all grew beautiful. But not here where I live now. I so love the items you at 4Patriots have. wished I could afford to buy more Items from you. It’s so wonderful all the charity’s you all help. Wishing all of you a great day. Gertraud Hammer, aka Gigi.

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