As many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by sharing an elaborate meal with friends and family, it’s important to remember that many other Americans lack the resources to meet their basic food needs. Nearly 46 million individuals — one in seven Americans — get help affording a nutritionally adequate diet through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program.
The number of homeless families has been growing in recent years, but major programs that have proven effective at helping families find stable housing will serve fewer of them next year because of limited funding.
The Great Recession has exposed both the strengths and weaknesses of our nation’s safety net. The Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and Medicaid have shown that safety-net programs can, if designed properly, push back against increased hardship during a downturn by responding automatically to sharp and sudden increases in need.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides cash assistance to low-income families with children who have nowhere else to turn for help.
Note: With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Center thought this was a good time to look at the latest figures on various indicators of hardship. This is the first in a series of posts on this subject that CBPP will do this week.