Perhaps the most damning evidence of a false economic recovery is the sustained rise in food stamp usage across the country. Unemployment numbers can be groomed and refined, the Consumer Price Index can be manipulated, but there’s no sugar coating the fact that a record 42 million Americans used food stamps in August, this according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The number represents a 17 percent rise from the same period last year.
It gets worse. A Gallup survey has revealed that a startling 1 out of 5 Americans struggles to put food on the table. Since 2007, food stamp usage has increased by almost 60 percent. “But extreme spikes in food stamp usage have been seen in some unexpected states, including Idaho, New Hampshire and Delaware,” reports the Huffington Post.
A time lapse video, created by John Lohman of Zero Hedge illustrates, in a frank and informal tone, the alarming trend. (warning: this video contains language and imagery that could be offensive to some).
This isn’t all bad news, though. Local food advocates have been doing their part to see that these benefits are put to good use. Programs such as the one recently launched in San Diego seek to provide lower-income families who live in “healthy food desserts” with access to locally grown produce from farmers’ markets and CSAs. Local codes mandating acceptance of SNAP benefits at these venues might go a long way towards closing a nutritional gap that persists between social classes.
So even if food stamp assistance is the only thing keeping American’s from “going postal,” as Lohman opines, at least we have a real shot at getting healthier while the economy struggles.