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Poll: NV in Top Five for Food Hardship

August 27, 2012

RENO, Nev. - Nevada got some bad news last week. The state ranks fifth in the nation for food hardship in a Gallup survey of more than 177,000 Americans about their families' health, well-being and access to basic services. The findings confirm what the Food Bank of Northern Nevada sees every day, as the organization helps cobble together assistance for people whose unemployment benefits have run out. Looming large over food banks is the Farm Bill in Congress, which determines funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Jocelyn Lantrip, marketing director for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, says cuts that are now proposed for SNAP would have a devastating impact on their clients.

"We have a SNAP outreach program at our food bank, and we have seven full-time staff that are very busy signing up people. For some, it is the only source of income they have. And across the country, food banks just can't do it alone."

The Gallup results found just over 21 percent, or one in five Nevadans, didn't have enough money to buy food at some point during the past 12 months. That's the case in 14 other states as well. The others in the top five were Mississippi, Alabama, Delaware and Georgia.

The current Senate plan for the Farm Bill would cut SNAP benefits for about 500,000 families nationwide. A House version of the bill does the same, and drops another 1.8 million people from the program altogether. And yet, Lantrip says, most families are on SNAP for only a few months, usually as a lifeline when they are between jobs.

"It is a temporary fix, but SNAP is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: It goes up in times when the economy is bad, and it helps people put food on the table. If you can't feed your family, you can't solve the other problems in your life."

Those who support cutting SNAP and other food-assistance programs say the cuts are necessary to help reduce the federal budget deficit. But Lantrip believes they would create a whole new set of problems by taking from the most vulnerable.

The Gallup poll results are available at http://bit.ly/O4c3re.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV