Thursday, August 11, 2011
One in Four Households with Children in NM Unable to Afford Enough Food
The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says that more than 28% percent of households with children in New Mexico reported in 2009-2010 not having enough money to buy food that they needed at times for themselves or their family during the prior twelve months, according to a new analysis of food hardship data released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). News of deep and widespread food hardship comes just days after the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) made another in a series of cuts to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, which are supposed to protect child from the devastating effects of poverty.
FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The analysis released today examines food hardship rates –- the inability to afford enough food – for households with and without children. Data are available for every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Albuquerque. Findings for New Mexico include:
- In 2009-2010, 28.3% percent of households with children in New Mexico said they were unable to afford enough food. The food hardship rate for households without children was 16.5% percent.
- For the Albuquerque MSA, the food hardship rate for households with children was 28.2% percent in 2009-2010, and 19% percent for households without children.
HSD Making Cuts Despite Funds on Hand
HSD has made a series of cuts to programs for low-income children and their families. HSD said the cuts were necessary because it did not have enough money. However, HSD recently admitted to the Legislative Finance Committee that it did not spend $10 million in funds it had available to pay for these programs in FY2011. Usually children participating in the TANF program receive $100 in August for school clothing. This year, when families are struggling more than ever to make ends meet, they are receiving half that amount. Over 30,000 children will be affected by the cut despite the fact that HSD has the $1.5 million needed to provide this help. New Mexican families are being forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children.
“This unnecessary cut will put even more strain on families’ ability to put food on the table,” said Patricia Anders, Staff Attorney, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The new data reaffirm what we’re seeing in our communities –- that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these challenging economic times. It demonstrates, as if any further evidence were needed, that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker.”
Congress Must Protect Low-Income Programs
When Congress returns to Washington after its August recess, it will enter the next phase of consideration under the recently passed debt ceiling deal: the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) will hold its first meeting and begin to develop plans to cut an additional $1.5 trillion in spending. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty urges Congress and the “Super Committee” to protect low-income programs such as SNAP (food stamps), TANF, Medicaid and WIC from cuts. “Congress must ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people,” said Anders.
“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress should know already -- that his or her district has tens of thousands of households struggling with hunger or food insecurity,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Weakening any of these key safety net programs will make hunger and malnutrition more common and deeper. It will increase fiscal deficits, further weaken the economy, and increase human suffering.”
New Mexico Needs Better Outreach
New Mexico has to do a better job using federally-funded anti-hunger programs. About 30% of the New Mexicans eligible for nutrition assistance through the SNAP program are not receiving it, according to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. If New Mexico were reaching more people with this program, we would have less hunger, healthier children, more federal dollars flowing into the state, more economic growth, and more jobs.
The full analysis is available on FRAC’s website.
And malnutrition leads to stunted brain development. It is a vicious cycle.
Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Aug 11, 2011 7:00:59 PM
Counter intuitively, this also contributes to childhood obesity because these kids are eating the cheapest ultra-processed grease and carbs. So our children are malnourished and fat, lethargic and unable to think.
Posted by: qofdisks | Aug 12, 2011 3:55:10 PM
"How the Safety Net Became a Dragnet
The most shocking thing I learned from my research on the fate of the working poor in the recession was the extent to which poverty has indeed been criminalized in America.
Perhaps the constant suspicions of drug use and theft that I encountered in low-wage workplaces should have alerted me to the fact that, when you leave the relative safety of the middle class, you might as well have given up your citizenship and taken residence in a hostile nation."
Posted by: qofdisks | Aug 14, 2011 10:18:04 PM