Tag Archive: food stamps

Money for Food or for Nuclear Weapons?

Buried in the next-to-last paragraph is an upcoming NJ event April 27 in Pompton Plains on a nuclear-free Middle East. Looks interesting to me, so I’m promoting this post. – Rosi

We live in strange times, indeed. In the past few months, the U.S. Congress has failed to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people and has passed legislation that will cut $8.6 billion in food stamps over the next 10 years, affecting 850,000 households in 1/3 of the states.

At the same time, the 2015 budget shows a 7% increase in spending on nuclear weapons, from $18.6 billion to $19.4 billion – almost $1 billion. While the overall amount allocated for nuclear weapons is greater than last year, the funds dedicated to nuclear nonproliferation programs – programs to reduce the numbers of available warheads or securing so-called “loose nukes” was cut, making more dollars available to either build new nuclear weapons hardware or spend billions to modernize old ones, such as the B-61 bomb.  

Gov. Christie can help restore NJ food stamp cuts

Cross-posted at Star-Ledger. Promoted by Rosi.

Far too many New Jersey residents are facing a health crisis, which shouldn’t be the case in such a wealthy state. Maintaining a wholesome diet is an almost impossible challenge for our urban poor, who suffer with limited financial resources and few places to purchase affordable fresh food. As a result, low-income New Jerseyans are especially vulnerable to obesity and its associated health risks.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 530,000 New Jerseyans – or about 6 percent of the population – live in “food deserts” with limited access to supermarkets. Camden, for example, lost its only supermarket last year and its 77,000 residents must now rely on expensive corner stores and mini-markets with inadequate healthy food options. Families living in these deserts are forced to make difficult choices between fruits and vegetables that cost more and unhealthy high-carbohydrate products and processed foods that are less expensive, feed more people and last longer.

Economic Opportunity is Slip Slidin’ Away for Most New Jerseyans

promoted by Rosi

As you may have read in the press and here on Blue Jersey, yesterday the US Census released new comprehensive data from 2012 on incomes, demographics, poverty and more. The picture for New Jersey, unfortunately, is not a pretty one. In the post-recession period from 2009 to 2012, New Jersey has seen: Fewer households in the middle class, lower median incomes, greater income inequality and dramatic increases in poverty.

As my colleague Ray Castro explains in an Issue Brief we released yesterday, “three years into the national recovery, New Jersey’s middle class is worse off and poverty is deepening for already-poor families.”

New Jersey was one of only five states in the country to see an increase in family poverty from 2011 to 2012, and one in ten residents now live below the official federal poverty level. Even more – one in four – live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is considered a better measurement of true hardship in high-cost New Jersey.

poverty

One place we can clearly see the impact of increasing poverty and strain on the middle class is the dramatic increase in the share of New Jersey households who are receiving food stamps: That share rose to 9.3 percent in 2012, up from 5.5 percent in 2009 (it was 8 percent in 2011). In other words, the share of households requiring food stamps jumped by an alarming 69 percent in just three years. Yet the House GOP voted just last night to cut the SNAP program. (We should thank New Jersey’s two Republican Congressmen – LoBiondo and Smith – who stood up to their party and voted no.)

The stats are disturbing, and worth a look – but the solutions are equally important, because there are actions the state can take to help reverse this slide:

• Restore the 20 percent cut in the state Earned Income Tax Credit which mainly helps working families with children

• Increase the eligibility level for WorkFirst NJ, which now provides temporary cash assistance to less than half the families with children in poverty

• Increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation

• Maintain housing programs that support struggling working families

• Increase state efforts to provide health insurance to poor and working families under the Affordable Care Act

• Invest in high-quality preschool for more children from poor families

• Strongly oppose proposed draconian federal cutbacks in food stamps, unemployment insurance, health coverage and other safety net programs

This is Flemington, my town, in tony Hunterdon

We may have all come on different ships.

But we’re in the same boat now.

                    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hunterdon – bucolic, small-towny, rich farmland dotted with McMansions. This is the kind of place Forbes Magazine has recognized and pointed people to for years. We make lists like 4th-richest county in America (richest in NJ), America’s Best Places to Raise a Family – 7th best in the country.

Now they’re calling Hunterdon the new face of food stamps. Hunterdon, where the median household income is $98,000 a year, just saw a spike in food stamp usage in 3 years of 514%. Flemington, my town, is the county seat, a small town with more empty storefronts than it used to have and its anchor, the historic Union Hotel, shuttered. People who live in Flemington generally make considerably less than those in the surrounding burbs of Raritan Twp and Readington. But this has always been a middle-class town.

CNN just came to town to interview people at the Flemington Food Pantry, which has also seen a surge in use, and in usefulness. It’s a wake-up call, for anybody still needing one, of what’s happening to the middle-class.  For some people suddenly unable to make it, it’s bewildering, they’re not prepared, and they never thought they’d “be there”. To be sure, the numbers here started out low. And there are places in New Jersey where poverty is more deeply settled, where people have been struggling for years, for so long that some of the rest of us have forgotten to think much about that. This is what OWS has been about – and Occupy Trenton, and Newark. The census now tells us about half of us are low-income or living in poverty now, a statistic still sinking in, for me. But not for everybody.

If you can spare it, a food bank donation is a great way to honor whatever you’re celebrating this season.

Short ad. Click to stop video at end, or CNN will play their next video

From CNN:

QoTD: Choppers ‘n Food Stamps Edition

Quote of the Day is today’s Tweet from Courier-Post columnist @Jeremy_Rosen:

ICYMI @GovChristie took state chopper to his Camden appearance 2day… nothing wrong with that, but is he scared of city streets?

Thwock. Thwock. Thwock. Gov. Chris Christie availed himself of the mammoth state helicopter down to Camden this morning for the 35-mile ride from Trenton. In Camden, a city with far fewer police to keep a watchful eye on the Guv, he announced the future expansion of what sounds like a good idea (unless it masks another privatization initiative) to shift drug offenders into rehab programs instead of prison.

Christie did his press conference at Cathedral Kitchen, the largest emergency food provider in Camden; feeding since 1976 “the homeless, the jobless, those with disabilities or addiction problems, the working poor,” from “infants to the elderly”.

It’s great to see Christie draw attention to Cathedral Kitchen’s work. But seriously, did Christie’s cocksure press operation give any thought at all to how arrogant it looks for the governor to chopper in – at great public expense – to a place where hungry people come to be fed, on the day after we learned there are twice as many New Jerseyans are relying on food stamps than 4 years ago?

Thwock. Thwock. Thwock. Guess nobody thought of that.  

Food Stamp apps double and Welfare up 40%

Another sign of the times:

In the latest sign the economic crisis is deepening in New Jersey, food stamp applications doubled and the number of people seeking welfare rose 40 percent in October compared with the previous year, according to state figures.

Breaking down the numbers further:

The greatest demand has been for food stamps. Applications more than doubled from 2,234 people in October 2007 to 4,547 people in October 2008, Human Services spokeswoman Suzanne Esterman said.

During roughly the same period, there was a 61 percent spike in the number of people seeking cash assistance through public welfare, known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In November 2007, Esterman said, 395 people submitted applications, compared with 635 in October 2008, the most recent information available. The highest demand came in July, with 730 people seeking public assistance.

I don’t know that this is a surprising development, given the rise in unemployment and overwhelming of New Jersey Food Banks.  You would expect people to utilize these programs as a safety net to help stabilize things when they are struggling.  Good thing there are programs to help break the fall.