Conservative Christians adamantly claim America was founded on the bible and is Christian by design, but Christian America’s legacy over the past three years will be they precipitated Republican efforts to drive tens-of-millions of their fellow citizens into poverty and hunger; just because they could. 2013 was a very bad year for working-poor Americans, children, senior citizens, and Veterans, but they should count their proverbial blessings because by all accounts, 2014 is shaping up to be an incredibly worse year. America is the richest nation on Earth, but it is, as one writer put it, rich in name only or RINO, because while the wealthiest 1% of Americans’ fortunes increase dramatically, millions of Americans are going hungry and Republicans plan to make the hunger crisis much worse.
In a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors titled the 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, food insecurity and poverty is rising significantly with no end in sight for the richest nation on Earth’s hunger crisis. Of the 25 cities in the survey, 83% reported an increase in demand for emergency food assistance over the course of 2013, and fully 72% reported that declining federal aid means they will have substantially fewer resources to meet the demand in 2014. One director of food initiatives said, “What we’re seeing is the reduction in federal resources impacting folks in Boston, and since close to 32% of the budget for the Greater Boston Food Bank comes from federal and state funding, when there are cuts in that funding it impacts their ability to provide for their constituents.”
It is important to note that in 2012 alone, the Department of Agriculture reported that 50 million Americans suffered from food insecurity, and when the 2013 numbers are released they predict the numbers will be even more dramatic. Since the November 1 food stamp cuts ($5 billion) went into effect, food banks around the country began reporting stark increases in the number of Americans seeking emergency food assistance. The true travesty of the increase is that many hungry Americans seeking emergency food assistance are employed and some earn too much to qualify for food stamps. One non-profit reported that 59% of their clients suffered from the November 1st cuts to food stamps, and 41% worked at poverty-level jobs; there were no numbers for senior citizens who were unable to go to food banks or how many suffered from sequester cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels. There were also no numbers for children affected from cuts to Head Start or food stamps.
These depressing figures will only get worse in 2014 when 1.3 million unemployed Americans lose jobless benefits on December 28, and that number will increase as benefits run out for other out-of-work Americans over the coming months and throughout 2014. The November food stamp cuts affected all 48.8 million recipients and increased their hunger, but Republicans are calling for at least $39 billion more. Compassionate conservative Paul Ryan’s request for $135 billion in his Path to Prosperity budget was revised down to $90 billion in a farm bill iteration of sheer heartlessness. Ryan justifies his disregard for hungry Americans because “you have to get savings in some of these areas” all the while claiming he “wants people to dream again, but you don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.” You also do not dream when you go to bed hungry and lay awake hoping there is adequate food the next day.
It is a sad commentary that while many Americans are making plans to celebrate Christmas, millions of their fellow citizens will wonder how to feed their children when schools close for the winter break and free and reduced-price school lunches and Head Start breakfasts disappear. Still, while some Democrats celebrated the budget agreement that left 99% of sequester cuts in place and eliminated unemployment benefit extensions, and conservatives complained the budget failed to cut enough spending from safety nets, 50 million Americans will face more hunger, steeper poverty, and no hope for 2014 except more hardship, less food for their children, and no hope of earning more than poverty wages; especially in the South. In fact, in Texas, a celebrated right to work for less state, child poverty increased by 47% and across the South food assistance that working families, children, and seniors depend on will be slashed well in excess of the $5 billion in November by politicians they support in every election.
It is incomprehensible that in the richest nation on Earth there is a hunger crisis affecting one in six Americans facing food insecurity every day of their lives. Tens of millions of Americans go to work every day for poverty wages and return home wondering how they will feed their children. Senior citizens and disabled Americans live day to day knowing their Meals on Wheels face steeper cuts due to the sequester Republicans kept in place for nine more years. With steeper cuts to federal programs food banks can hardly keep up with the increasing demands since the November food stamp cuts, and they know Republicans will cut billions more to, as Paul Ryan says, “find savings in some of these areas.”
It is possible most Americans are unaware there is a hunger crisis in America, but that seems unlikely. One wonders how much more the people can take; especially in the Southern states where poverty and hunger is rampant. The top 14 states with the highest child poverty rates are in the South, and nationally nearly 25% of children live in poverty ranking America number two behind Romania with only a slightly higher rate among the world’s developed nations. Republicans are surely to blame for America’s hunger crisis, but the media share the blame for not reporting that the richest country is home to 50 million Americans who lack “access to adequate food limited by a lack of money” and a political party determined to use a debt ceiling crisis to increase America’s hunger crisis.