And what are the implications of all this bull that’s being slung by political leaders?
The largest group (about 41%) of people on food stamps is white. That’s about 8% of white folks in the U.S. Meanwhile, a quarter of food stamp households is headed by African Americans. That’s about 9 million people in a community suffering from a 14.4% unemployment rate. Cuts to Food Stamps will hurt poor people in general, for sure, especially those who live in rural areas where food stamps helps to buoy the diversity of foods available at markets. But cuts to food stamps will have catastrophic implications for African Americans in particular who have been living in depression conditions since before the economic crisis.
Yet to hear folks talk about it, you would think that the people most affected by food stamps are business owners and white middle class voters.
So, all long as that’s fodder for debate, let’s be clear. Those folks are also affected. In general, about 10% of groceries in the U.S. are purchased with food stamps. That’s a big deal to farmers and grocers who rely on that income to stay in the game.
And for poor communities, the stimulative impact is magnified. Where I grew up, between 25 and 50% of grocers’ incomes came from food stamps. Those stores would go out of business without the program, costing jobs and worsening the already serious problem of food insecurity in poor communities.
Moreover, given how low the minimum wage is, and how dependent many businesses are on temporary and part-time workers, food stamps ends up being a subsidy to business. How else are workers supposed to be able to make it on low wage jobs if not for government food assistance?
Given this reality, painting food stamp recipients as undeserving (or even as annoying wildlife) may be good for the political prospects of conservatives, but it’s bad for the rest of us.
Time to speak up. We all live on food stamps.