Why is the 2012 Farm Bill Punishing Single Moms for Being Poor? [Reader Forum]

Readers discuss Akiba Solomon's explainer on the impact of the proposed cuts in 2012 food-assistance programs.

By Channing Kennedy Jul 30, 2012

Last week, Akiba Solomon laid out for us exactly why the 2012 Farm Bill is a feminist issue. Simply put, it’s going to determine whether a lot of financially vulnerable women will be able to put food on the table, or if government-funded food-assistance programs will receive massive cuts. As she explains, while SNAP has plenty of flaws in its current incarnation (much like the rest of the safety net), the Senate seems determined to show how it can be worse. And, of course, poor women of color stand to lose the most:

The Senate version of this year’s Farm Bill cuts about $4.5 billion from SNAP. In real life, this means 500,000 households would lose $90 a month in benefits, according to the Food and Research Action Center. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee’s version, passed early this month, includes a staggering $16.5 billion in SNAP cuts. Per Feeding America, this would result in 3 million people losing all of their benefits, 300,000 children going without school lunch, and 500,000 households losing $90 in monthly grocery money.

I haven’t seen a race breakdown of these potential losses, but I can tell you that of SNAP households in 2010, 36 percent were white, 22 percent were black,10 percent were Latino, 2 percent were Asian, 3 percent were Native American (19 percent didn’t report their race). Most adult recipients were women and a hefty share were single moms.*

I don’t want to beat you over the head with stats, but it’s really important to note how many folks are using SNAP. About one in seven U.S. residents received this help in 2011, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The year before, three out of four households on SNAP included a child, elderly or disabled person. For the most part, SNAP participants were below the poverty line and their food budgets were very small.

To put a face on an issue that’s almost always at the hands of "armchair legislators," Akiba also interviews a single mom who depends on EBT to feed her kids, and who’s already facing massive restrictions that keep her from accessing healthy food. And here at Colorlines, we’ve long talked about the double-folded racial politics of the safety net, and food stamps in particular — programs that are stigmatized until they get cut or mismanaged, and that are then threatened with elimination because they aren’t getting results. (Heck, we even made a TV show about it.) And it’s an issue that’s not going away anytime soon. Read Akiba’s column, and check out what the Colorlines.com community has to say.

Michelle Jb:

The average person is crazy ignorant about what exactly food stamps / EBT are. I have heard ignorant-ass folks of all color hues pass judgement. Personally, I would prefer my tax dollars go to food stamps and feeding/helping out our people at home than to foreign wars or raises for politicians. But I actually know the reality of how hard it is to survive in the States…

And from Twitter:

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