Anti-hunger advocates focus on Census data
Anti-hunger advocates said that the U.S. Census data released Wednesday showing no statistically significant decline in poverty showed the importance of nutrition programs while others noted that the data showed middle-class income rose to their highest levels.
More than 39 million people in the United States live in poverty, and poverty declined from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 12.3 percent in 2017, which is not statistically significant, noted Food Research & Action Center President Jim Weill.
FRAC also pointed out that the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account many of the federal programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was 13.9 percent in 2017 — statistically the same as the 2016 rate of 14 percent.
The SPM data show that in 2017, SNAP lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty, school lunches lifted 1.2 million out of poverty, and WIC lifted 279,000 people out of poverty, FRAC said.
Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg pointed out that the number of Americans in poverty stayed the same while the Dow Jones Wall Street index soared by 24 percent in 2017.
“The nation’s still sky-high poverty is a human-made disaster of epic proportions,” Berg said. The SPM data “proves, yet again, that one of the few bright spots in our nation’s anti-poverty programming are existing safety net programs, which work spectacularly well, despite repeated conservative attempts to slash them.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post noted in its analysis that middle-class income hit an all-time high.