Washington, D.C. – September 12, 2012 – New data (pdf) from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 46.2 million people (15 percent) lived in poverty in 2011, a change not statistically significant from the 2010 poverty rate of 15.1 percent. The report again underscored the importance of key safety net programs in reducing poverty. According to the Census Bureau, 3.9 million people – 1.7 million children – would have been lifted out of poverty if Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) benefits were counted as income.
“What these new data tell us is that cutting SNAP would leave people not only hungrier, but poorer. When counted as income, SNAP benefits lifted nearly four million people above the poverty line,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “SNAP is making a huge difference to those who have the least. Those in Congress who propose cuts that would reduce benefit levels or kick people out of the program are going down the wrong path, and Americans overwhelmingly oppose that.”
A recent poll (pdf) by the Food Research and Action Center found deep support for SNAP. In particular, when asked “[t]his year, Congress will consider cutting billions of dollars from the food stamp program in an effort to reduce federal spending. Do you favor cutting food assistance to low-income families and seniors, or do you think that is the wrong way to reduce government spending,” 75 percent say it is the wrong way to reduce spending.
The new poverty numbers come just a week after the release of the 2011 food insecurity rates. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of people living in food insecure households grew from 48.8 million Americans in 2010 to 50.1 million Americans in 2011.