Food Stamps Again A Vivid Symbol In Poverty Debate

U.N.: These 7 Companies Impede Global Food Security

It suspends a requirement that limits benefits to three months unless recipients work 20 hours a week or spend a certain amount of time on work-related activities, such as job training. Until this year, 45 states took advantage of the waiver during the recession, and two that did not Vermont and New Hampshire weren’t eligible for statewide coverage, which is based on unemployment and job market data. Delaware and Utah chose not to request a waiver, while Wyoming wasn’t eligible. Many Republican-led states are trimming safety nets as the recession wanes. In addition, food stamp benefits for all recipients are set to fall Nov. 1 when federal stimulus money ends. Some states have changed welfare enrollment criteria. Others enacted unprecedented cuts in unemployment insurance, as Stateline previously reported. Against that backdrop, supporters of the cuts see the work requirement as a prime opportunity to trim the rolls. Those possibly affected by ending the waivers comprise less than 5 percent of Americans collecting food stamps. Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty Kansas Dept. of Children and Families Sec. Phyllis Gilmore Republicans see the improving economy as a sign enrollment should be dropping anyway, with cuts to benefits a good way to push some people back into the labor market. Kansas made its case clear, calling the policy “an effort to encourage employment over welfare dependency.” “Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty,” Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said in a statement announcing the move. Those who support ending the waivers also promise robust job placement and training programs to help those affected meet work requirements, which could allow them to keep their benefits.

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of Americans throw out food prematurely, as TIME reported last week. Basically, consumers are confused by phrasing like use by and sell by and so, to be safe, they end up tossing perfectly good produce, snacks and more. In reality, food dating really just indicates when an item is at its peak freshness, not when it becomes inedible. All of this got Doug Rauch, the former president of the Trader Joes supermarket chain, thinking about a potential solution. And now, it seems he might have found one: a market that specializes in preparing and repackaging expired food and selling it at deeply discounted prices. He plans to launch this project, called the Daily Table, next year in Bostons working-class Dorchester neighborhood, NPR reports . (MORE: How Two German-Owned Sister Supermarket Brands Became Hot Trendsetters ) Its the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities, Rauch told NPR. It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted.He explained that the Daily Tables setup will be kind ofa hybrid between a grocery store and a restaurant if you would, because primarily its going to take this food in, prep it, cook it [for] what I call speed-scratch cooking. The basic concept of repurposing expired food isnt new. Food banks, for example, have been doing it for years. But the idea here is to make this nutritional food an affordable, quick and easy option to people who might otherwise spend their lunch money at McDonalds. And of course, its about implementing a longer-term solution to the growing problem of wasted food across the U.S. This is about trying to tackle a very large social challenge we have, Rauch told NPR, that is going to create a health care tsunami in cost if we dont do something about it.

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Just as significantly, adoption of sustainable and organic farming methods in developed countries would — by necessity — create a more diverse base of crops available. While this would drive up the costs of food — currently at all time lows — it would also dramatically increase the nutritional value of food, and help mitigate the rampant obesity epidemic in America, one that is caused in part by cheap by-products of corn and soy . Who’s standing in the way? Now, back to the companies identified in the U.N. report as standing in the way of achieving food security. Monsanto (NYSE: MON ) , BASF, Bayer, Cargill, DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , Syngenta (NYSE: SYT ) , and Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW ) are all called outby name. It would take too long to go through each and every offense named in the report, but take this as an example: “Monsanto and its affiliates lobbied Indonesian legislators in the 1990s to support genetically engineered (GE) crops. In 2005, the firm was fined $1.5 million by the United States Department of Justice for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing a senior Indonesian Environment Ministry official.” The view from 30,000 feet is clear: these companies represent the majority of worldwide agribusiness. Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Though some of those names might be hard to read, the biggest chemical companies on the list are Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF — in that order. These companies obviously have a huge financial motivation to maintain the status quo. The problem is that the status quo is largely responsible for the environmental degradation and starvation we have today. Because these companies have enormous resources to influence public policy, they will continue to lobby for what is in their own best interest, to the detriment of poor rural farmers worldwide. The bottom line: None of these companies stands to benefit from a proliferation of organic, sustainable agriculture. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

While seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Newt Gingrich labeled Obama the “food stamp president.” Some of the growth can be attributed to Obama’s food stamp policies, but Congress’ budget analysts blame most of it on the economy. The big factors: The SNAP program is an entitlement, meaning everyone who is eligible can get aid, no matter the cost to taxpayers. Millions of jobs were lost in the recession that hit in 2007. Unemployment is still high, and many people who have jobs are working fewer hours or for lower pay than before, meaning more people are eligible. Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus temporarily increased benefit amounts; that boost is set to expire on Nov. 1. Time limits for jobless adults without dependents are still being waived in most of the country. Food stamp eligibility requirements were loosened by Congress in 2002 and 2008, before Obama became president. Fluctuating food prices have driven up monthly benefit amounts, which are based on a low-cost diet. Fewer to feed? The number of people using food stamps appears to be leveling off this year, and long-term budget projections suggest the number will begin to fall as the economy improves. Why is it taking so long? Although the jobless rate has dropped from its 2009 peak, it remains high, leaving a historically large number of people eligible for food stamps. Since the recession began, a bigger portion of people who are eligible have signed up for food stamps than in the past. Many people who enrolled during the worst days of the recession still qualify for SNAP cards, even if they are doing a little better now.