Rightwing Lobby Advocates Balancing the Budget on the Backs of the Poor
Heritage Foundation spokesman, Robert Rector, the largest conservative think tank in Washington discusses cutting the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program - Food Stamps) with Eric Olsen of Feeding America, the largest hunger relief charity in the country with a network of over 200 food banks across the U.S.
You may know Robert Rector from his scathing opinions on the conditions of poverty in the U.S. The poor aren’t really poor, mind you, because they aren’t living in broken down hovels like we see in third world countries.
But if you look closely, most Americans “living in poverty”—the Census’s poverty threshold for a family of four was $16,404 in 1997—aren’t poor in any conventional sense all. About 40 percent of “poor” households own homes, 70 percent own cars, 97 percent own color televisions, 75 percent own video cassette recorders, two-thirds have air conditioning, and so on. Most “poor” kids today are super-nourished, growing up to be one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the soldiers who stormed Normandy in World War II.
Further, Rector wants to cut SNAP because the poor are too fat anyway.
Rector says food stamps are not helping the poor, claiming that, “The majority of them are overweight, and the idea of what we need to do is give them more food is just kind of silly.”
The reality is far from Rector’s ignorant opinions. Bread for the World reports:
- 14.6% of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 49 million Americans—including 16.7 million children—live in these households.
- Nearly one in four children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, one in three children is at risk of hunger.
As to SNAP:
- About half of all American children will receive SNAP benefits at some point before age 20. Among African-American children, 90 percent will enroll in SNAP before age 20.
- One in eight people is enrolled in SNAP. Nearly half are children.
- SNAP participation has increased 44.3 percent above pre-recession levels, an increase of 12.1 million people.
- More than 90 percent of SNAP benefits are used up by the third week of the month.
In fact, Rector’s remarks about obesity among the poor and America’s food stamp program are not just insensitive, they’re flat out wrong.
Participation in federal nutrition programs reduces the risk of girls becoming overweight by increasing access to an adequate, nutritious diet. School-aged girls enrolled in SNAP, school lunch, and school breakfast programs are 68 percent less likely to be overweight than food-insecure girls who do not participate in the programs.
The poor are at dire risk of losing food program services from the Republican Congress at a time when they need it most. Please consider making a donation to your local food bank or taking up a food drive at your place of work. You can find locations here: