Food and Housing Insecurity
Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, Americans who could not provide for themselves relied on the relief from families, friends, and in some cases local or state government. However, during the Depression, States and Local governments lacked the resources needed to assist the millions of people. Since then, the national government has taken on the responsibility of providing a safety net for disadvantaged living among us; however, we still debate how best to provide security of income, housing, food and health care for low-income people of all ages and persons with disabilities.
According to economists and government officials, a healthy economy is one that has an increasing gross domestic product (GDP), low inflation rate, and a low unemployment rate. However, although the GDP is an excellent sign of an expanding economy, it is not a measure of wellbeing. Based on the reports of the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, at some point in 2017, 40 million people struggled to afford enough food, which is about 11.8% of households that experienced food insecurity- the situation in which people have limited ability to obtain, in socially acceptable ways, enough nutritious food to sustain a healthy and active life. People affected by food insecurities are mostly women, children, caregivers, people with disabilities, older workers and working families with low income. Most of the time, people suffering from food insecure, also suffer from housing insecurity- the situation in which people have limited or uncertain ability to obtain, in socially acceptable ways, affordable, safe, and decent-quality permanent housing. To help people with food insecurity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs. The three largest programs are: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), (also known as food stamp program), provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income households to purchase food items at SNAP-authorized retailers. SNAP is available to all individuals who meet financial and nonfinancial eligibility criteria.
The National School Lunch Program operates in over 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. All meals served under the program receive Federal subsidies, and free or reduced-price lunches are available to low-income students.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), provides grants to States to support the distribution of supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women; for infants in low-income families; and for children in low-income families who are younger than age 5 and who are found to be at nutritional risk.
People who are house insecure uses federal rental assistance such as Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. Section 8 PBRA helps families to afford modest housing and avoid homelessness or other kinds of housing instability. Low-income families use vouchers to help pay for housing in the private market. The program is federally funded but run by a network of about 2,150 state and local housing agencies. Vouchers sharply reduce homelessness and other hardships, lift more than a million people out of poverty, and give families an opportunity to move to safer, less-poor neighborhoods.
Food and Housing Insecurity