Recently, the Food Research Research and Action Center (FRAC) released a new report examining the national percentage of households facing a food hardship – not having enough money to buy the food they or their families need.
According to the report ”Food Hardship in America 2012” Nebraska has a food hardship rate of 13.8 percent. Although this is better than many states, it still means more than 1 in 8 Nebraskans face food hardship. Moreover, the Omaha/Council Bluffs community ranks in the top 100 for food hardship in large metropolitan areas (14.1 percent, rank of 77).
These sad facts are simply unacceptable.
This continually high rate of food hardship, nationally and in Nebraska, is evidence of the lingering effects of a bad recession and the failure to leverage key nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides funds to eligible, low-income people to purchase nutritious food. It is a very effective program, but could be leveraged to do more in our state.
LB 330, introduced by Senator Sara Howard, would allow working Nebraskans to increase their wages without losing essential food assistance before they can afford it. Current SNAP requirements can mean that working Nebraskans who face food hardship sometimes do not seek promotions or wage increases because the increase in pay is not enough to offset the cost of losing food assistance. LB 330 would allow Nebraskans who can prove their bills make it difficult to buy food to become eligible for SNAP while still pursuing better circumstances.
“Allowing more hard working Nebraskans to access SNAP would not only reward work, but it would also help prevent the food hardship that so many Nebraskans are facing currently,” said James Goddard, Director of the Economic Justice and Health Care Access programs at Nebraska Appleseed.