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Washington, D.C.– Bread for the World has released new information detailing hunger and poverty rates among Hispanics in the United States. The data shows that Hispanics have much higher rates of both poverty and food insecurity than the general population. The data also documents how federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) help lift Hispanic families out of poverty.
“Federal programs such as SNAP play an important role in reducing both hunger and poverty in the Hispanic community,” said Jose Garcia, director of church relations at Bread for the World. “Investments in these programs are critical to people’s health and well-being, and help lift families out of poverty. Much more needs to be done to ensure that they are adequately funded.”
In 2014, 22.4 percent of Hispanic households were food-insecure, and 24.1 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty, compared with 14 percent and 15.5 percent of the general population, respectively. Federal programs like SNAP provide long-term benefits for health, education, and economic well-being. Last year, SNAP lifted at least 4.7 million people out of poverty—including 2.1 million children.
These benefits are particularly important for Hispanic families because in 2013 Hispanics made up 17 percent of the U.S. population but 28 percent of the working poor.
The data comes on the heels of a new report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers highlighting how SNAP improves food security and life outcomes for families. At the same time, the current monthly benefit levels are often not sufficient to sustain households through the end of the month.
“Unfortunately, cuts to programs like SNAP mean that families do not have enough food to put on the table,” said Garcia. “This can have a devastating effect. Hospital visits spike, and children’s test scores diminish after SNAP benefits have run out.”
A report by Bread for the World Institute, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality, documents how food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other physical and mental health conditions. The report estimates that hunger and food insecurity increased health expenditures in the United States by $160 billion in 2014.
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to respond to changes in need, making it well suited to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bread for the World and its partners are asking Congress to provide $200 million for global nutrition in the fiscal year 2020 budget.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.