April 19, 2007
FACTS ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM
African Americans Benefit Disproportionately from the Food Stamp Program
A typical African American family on the Food Stamp Program has income (not including food stamps) at 56 percent of the poverty line (compared to 64 percent for all food stamp households). For a family of three, 56 percent of the poverty line corresponds to a monthly income of $775, or an annual income of $9,300.
On average, African American families on the Food Stamp Program received $216 in food stamps each month in fiscal year 2005, or over $2,500 per year.
African Americans who qualify for food stamps are more likely to participate than other groups (73 percent participation rate, compared to 60 percent overall). Nonetheless, according to USDA, almost 3 million African Americans who are eligible for food stamps are missing out on benefits.
Food Insecurity and Poverty Remain High Among African Americans
More than one in five African American households (22.4 percent) and more than one in four African-American families with children (27.4 percent) have difficulty affording adequate food (known as “food insecurity” in USDA research). This is almost three times the share for white, non-Hispanic households.
1996 Welfare Law Food Stamp Provisions Contained Deep Cuts for African Americans that Remain in Effect
- In 2008, a typical African American working parent with two children will receive about $37 less in food stamps each month than they would have without the 1996 welfare law’s across-the-board benefit cuts. The cuts are deepening with each passing year By 2017 the benefit cuts will cost a typical working parent of two almost $650 a year, the equivalent of more than one and a half months’ worth of food stamps each year.
- One of the harshest provisions of the 1996 welfare bill limited food stamps for unemployed childless adults to 3 months out of each 36-month period even when they are willing to work. A disproportionate share of the people cut off food stamps because of this provision are African American (46 percent, compared to 35 percent of the overall food stamp population, according to USDA estimates).
African American Farmers Are Much Less Likely to Receive Farm Subsidies
- According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, fewer than one in five African American farmers (18 percent) receive a federal farm subsidy, only about half the percentage of white farmers (34 percent). Furthermore, the census found that there are fewer than 2 farms run by African Americans for every 100 farms run by a white farmer.
 Household Food Security in the United States, 2005,” USDA, 2006.