Food and Housing Insecurities.
Before the Great Depression of 1930’s, Americans who could not provide for themselves relied on the relief from families, friends, and in some cases local or state government. But during the Depression, States and Local governments lacked the resources needed to assist the millions of people. Since then, the national government has taken on the responsibility of providing a safety net for disadvantaged living among us; however, we still debate how best to provide security of income, housing, food and health care for low income people of all ages and persons with disabilities.
According to economists and government officials, a health economy is one that has an increasing gross domestic product (GDP), low inflation rate, and low unemployment rate. But, although the GDP is a great sign of an expanding economy, it is not a measure of wellbeing. According to the US Department of Agriculture, at some point in 2017, 40 million people struggled to afford enough food, which is about 11.8% of households that experienced food insecurity- the situation in which people have limited or uncertain ability to obtain, in socially acceptable ways, enough nutritious food to sustain a healthy and active life. People who are most affected by food insecurities are women, children, caregivers, people with disabilities, older workers and working families with low income. Most of the time, people suffering from food insecure, also suffer from housing insecurity- the situation in which people have limited or uncertain ability to obtain, in socially acceptable ways, affordable, safe, and decent-quality permanent housing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs. The three largest programs are:
• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamp program. The program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income households to purchase food items at SNAP-authorized retailers. SNAP is available to all individuals who meet financial and nonfinancial eligibility criteria. In an average month of fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017), SNAP provided benefits to nearly 42.2 million people in the United States (about 13 percent of individuals). The average benefit was about $126 per person per month, and Federal expenditures for the program were nearly $68 billion that year.
• The National School Lunch Program. The program operates in over 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. All meals served under the program receive Federal subsidies, and free or reduced-price lunches are available to low income students. In fiscal year 2017, the program provided lunches to an average of 30.0 million children each school day. Two-thirds (67 percent) of the lunches served in 2017 were free, and an additional 7 percent were provided at reduced prices.
• The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The program is a federally funded preventive nutrition program that provides grants to States to support distribution of supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non breastfeeding postpartum women; for infants in low-income families; and for children in low-income families who are younger than age 5 and who are found to be at nutritional risk. Most State WIC agencies provide vouchers that participants use to acquire supplemental food packages at authorized food stores. In fiscal year 2017, WIC served 7.3 million participants per month at an average monthly cost for food (after rebates to WIC from manufacturers) of about $41 per person.
People who are house insecure uses federal rental assistance such as Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. The Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs enable more than 2 million people in 1.2 million low-income households to afford modest apartments by contracting with private owners to rent some or all the units in their housing developments to low-income families. Section 8 PBRA helps families to afford modest housing and avoid homelessness or other kinds of housing instability. Low-income families use vouchers to help pay for housing in the private market. The program is federally funded but run by a network of about 2,150 state and local housing agencies. More than 5 million people in 2.2 million low-income families use vouchers. Vouchers sharply reduce homelessness and other hardships, lift more than a million people out of poverty, and give families an opportunity to move to safer, less-poor neighborhoods.
Food and Housing Insecurities.