Stimulus Helps the Hungry

The Economic Stimulus Bill includes much needed help for food banks across the country. The news comes just as the Arizona Department of Economic Security announced reductions in programs and services because of the recent budget cuts. Arizona’s food stamp program (SNAP) is in serious need of assistance. Nationwide, the Economic Stimulus Bill includes $19.9 billion for food stamps, $500 million for special nutrition programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and $150 million for emergency food boxes.

Assisting families affected by the downturn in the economy should be reason enough to fund these vital programs, but providing these basic needs also helps the ailing economy. Food stamps and other social services are considered automatic stabilizers that will instantly boost the economy. Food stamp money will be instantly injected back into the economy by clients at grocery stores, markets and mega-chains. Food stamps are not something that can be used to pay bills, or saved; the money invested in food stamps will be turned around relatively quickly when clients make purchases. Officials say the additional funding for food stamps will reach clients in April and nearly all of that aid will be used right away.

Additional funds for emergency food are also much-needed. Individuals receiving assistance in the form of emergency food increased 21 percent this January. In January 2008, 31,920 people received assistance, as compared with 38,773 people in January 2009. Our national affiliate, Feeding America, indicates that this trend is echoed nationwide: “For one in eight Americans, hunger is a reality.” This number is up from one in ten Americans just two years ago.