Hunger is a primary concern of mine. Adequate nutrition has positive impacts on every part of our lives, individually and collectively. To put it differently, if you eat the right amount and make healthy choices, your good nutrition affects both you and me. The reverse is true, as well.
I’ve written a lot on hunger issues and will continue to. With this post, I’m starting a new, related series. This post debuts a hunger news digest, no pun intended. As I see reports about hunger, food insecurity, the costs of poor nutrition, the political jousting around food stamps (SNAP), I will collect them here. Showing quick summaries with links will help you find your way around the news, and hopefully will highlight the prevalence of a sometimes hidden issue.
With no further ado, here’s the hunger news.
What Separates A Healthy And Unhealthy Diet? Just $1.50 Per Day
Opinions have differed about whether eating a healthy diet is more or less expensive than an unhealthy diet. A Harvard cardiologist and epidemiologist undertook a meta-analysis of existing studies to resolve the question.
So he and his colleagues decided to pore over 27 studies from 10 different developed countries that looked at the retail prices of food grouped by healthfulness. Across these countries, it turns out, the cost difference between eating a healthful and unhealthful diet was pretty much the same: about $1.50 per day. And that price gap held true when they focused their research just on U.S. food prices, the researchers found in their of these studies.
The researchers evaluated the cost of food by types of eating pattern — for example, a diet heavy on vegetables, nuts and fruits, like the Mediterranean diet, versus one rich in processed foods and meat. They also looked at price differences within specific food categories, such as grains, proteins, fats and dairy. The biggest price differences arose when it came to proteins/meats: Healthier, leaner cuts, they found, were on average about 29 cents more per serving.
The cost difference is especially noteworthy when considering the reductions to food stamp benefits as of November 1.
Thanksgiving: Food stamp cuts leave pantries struggling to meet rising need
Food stamp cuts leave families with fewer options. One option is food banks and food pantries, where they are available. But federal funding has been cut for them, too.
On Nov. 1, the 47 million people who rely on food stamps — also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — saw a decrease in benefits when Congress allowed a 2009 program funding boost to expire. As a result, a family of four will receive $36 less in food stamps in November and each month thereafter, according to the USDA.
Barkley said that NY Common Food Pantry has also had to adjust to a lack of government funding this year. In 2012, the U.S. government purchased $560 million worth of food for charities, but in 2013 the funding was slashed to $495 million. Feeding America’s director of tax and commodity policy, Carrie Calvert, said food banks will have to find a way to compensate for the 25 percent decrease in federal food deliveries.
From a political standpoint, Republicans are pushing hard to reduce food stamp benefits farther. Democrats generally are resisting that push. The disagreement is part of what has delayed the enactment of a new Farm Bill. But who actually uses food stamps?
Interactive: Republicans More Likely to Have Constituents Who Use Food Stamps
The information and graphics in this article show heavier dependence in congressional districts represented by Republicans. Please click the link to see the map of food stamp usage.
When the House voted in September to cut $40 billion from the federal food-stamp program over 10 years, all but 15 Republicans supported the measure while not a single Democrat did so.
But according to a TIME analysis of county-by-county food-stamp-enrollment data compiled by the nonprofit Feeding America, it appears that House Republicans represent more districts with high levels of participation in the program than House Democrats. Of the 350 congressional districts in which TIME was able to estimate the percentage of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 76 had levels of 20% or higher. Of those, 43 are held by Republicans while 33 are controlled by Democrats.
Links to other hunger news are welcome. Thanks for reading.