The Face Of Poverty? More Than Half Of Food Stamp Recipients Are In The Suburbs

September 3, 2013  |  


When you think of the average person on food stamps, you might be thinking of a single mother at an urban grocery story, swiping a government card to pay her bill. Your picture would be a little off.

People living in the suburbs made up half of the people getting food stamps in 2007, and 55 percent of the people receiving assistance in 2011, the Brookings Institute reports.

Right now, 47 million Americans are on food stamps. House Republicans have been trying to make cuts to the food stamp program to the tune of $40 million. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that could cut six million low-income people, including children, from the rolls. Even without these measure, benefit levels could drop on November 1 as parts of the 2009 Recovery Act, put into effect following the economic meltdown, expire.

But poverty isn’t just a problem for those who are widely perceived as low-income. Lots of people from many different backgrounds were affected by the meltdown, with job losses and pay cuts felt across various demographics. Many argue it’s the social safety net — programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that have kept people out of poverty.

This isn’t to say that cities have fared so much better. The number of homes receiving food stamps in metro areas is up by two-thirds.

“In an era where the challenges of poverty are increasingly shared across urban and suburban boundaries, many policy responses have often failed to keep pace. Yet, by its design, SNAP has been responsive to changes in need through the ups and downs of economic cycles, playing a critical role in alleviating poverty,” the Brookings Institute argues.

The Atlantic takes it a step further, arguing that the disproportionate impact that the housing debacle had on the middle class is not being met with a recovery that will alleviate the financial issues that were created.

“Homes that were supposed to be lead to the American Dream lead to financial ruin instead. And, unfortunately, this isn’t going away anytime soon — not if the recovery continues to only be one for the top 1 percent,” the outlet writes.

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