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USDA: Food Insecurity Rises in Idaho

PHOTO: bag of groceries. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
PHOTO: bag of groceries. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
September 6, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - About 14 percent of Idahoans are running out of money to buy food before each month is up, according to a new report.

"Food insecurity" has been growing in Idaho since 2006, according to the report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many of those families turn to food stamps, says Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force.

Idaho's rise in caseloads has been among the nation's highest, Gardner says, which has led to talk about making it harder for people to qualify.

"The food-stamp program in Idaho continues to be attacked. The numbers, and certainly these that were released today, show us the food-stamp program is a frontline defense against hunger in the state."

The Food Research and Action Center has released a new poll showing about three-quarters of Americans, in both political parties, don't like the idea of cutting billions from food stamps — now called SNAP — to reduce federal spending. Yet bills in the U.S. House and Senate would do just that.

FRAC president Jim Weill says about half of all children in America are on food stamps at some point before they become adults.

"American families know what the food-stamp program is and what it does. Sometimes, the people who are attacking it, using false images of it, don't realize how many of their constituents are on the program."

Gardner says Idaho's food-stamp program has handled the rising caseloads efficiently.

"Our food-stamp program, specifically in Idaho, is extremely well-run. It has received USDA awards for timeliness and accuracy."

FRAC reports that more women than men use food stamps. In its poll, women showed stronger support for the program.

FRAC poll details are online at frac.org. State-by-state food-insecurity numbers from the USDA are at ers.usda.gov.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID