Report: Persistent hunger remains a problem in New Mexico

A new USDA report shows that about nine-percent of households report being food "insecure" - meaning they can't afford enough food for a healthy active life.(Photo courtesy of USDA)

A new USDA report shows that about nine-percent of households report being food “insecure” – meaning they can’t afford enough food for a healthy active life. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

Renee Blake

Public News Service – NM

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico ranked 17th highest in food insecurity between 2010 and 2012. A new report from the USDA shows that more than 15 percent of households in New Mexico reported being “food insecure.” That is higher than the national ranking. 

Kim Posich, executive director, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increase of 2009, and possible food stamp cuts in the Farm Bill, could have a permanent impact on childhood cognitive and emotional development. When will the last shoe drop on the cuts, he wondered.

“If the contingent of politicians who think that people should stand on their own two feet without support of a safety net have their way,” Posich warned, “then by the end of this year, we could see some serious reductions in SNAP benefits.”

Posich called the food stamp program, known as SNAP, one of the most effective ways of getting food on the tables of low-income families who otherwise would do without. He pointed to a New Mexico Voices for Children study showing that it takes about $30,000 a year for an average family of three to get by in the state with necessities alone – no birthday presents, no movies, no new tires for the 10-year-old car.

SNAP is important in getting people over the hump when times are hard, he said.

“These are not people who are long-term dependent. The average stay on the SNAP program for a family in New Mexico is about nine months,” he said.

Anti-hunger groups are worried the problem will get worse as Congress considers steep cuts to the food stamp program through the Farm Bill. Jim Weill, president, Food Research and Action Center, said everyone who receives benefits through SNAP already will see reductions, starting just after Halloween.

“Benefits are going to go down on Nov. 1 by $29 a month for a household of three,” Weill said. “That’s more than $300 a year, which is huge if you’re living on $8,000, $10,000, $12,000, $14,000 a year.”

The 2009 ARRA increased SNAP’s maximum monthly benefits by more than 13 percent. Nationwide, about 50 million Americans live in households struggling against hunger.

Read the full USDA report.

 

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