By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
Last year the United States Congress cut some funding for the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) program, lowering assistance amounts about 20 percent overall. That may seem inconsequential, but $20 off a benefit of $100 for monthly food drops the balance to $80, all while food costs are rising.
According to Wallst247.com, meats such as chicken, ground beef and bacon have risen 5, 8 and 13 percent, respectively. Fruits and vegetables are up 35 percent on whole.
Protein is as essential for a balanced diet as are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Alternatives to meat protein like beans and soy have helped fill the gap, but will this sustain a nation raised on meat?
There is no easy answer on the horizon.
Winter, still raging on the other side of the country, is considered the main reason for this year’s price increases. However, cuts in SNAP means less-healthy populations both among those growing up and those aging. This translates to higher medical costs for children as they age and adds to the cost of caring for those retiring.
SNAP benefits those who cannot help themselves. “Seventy-six percent of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person or a [person with a disability]. These vulnerable households receive 83 percent of all SNAP benefit…the average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744,” according to Feeding America, sourcing statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Earth’s climate changes every few thousand years or so, creating oceans and land masses over hundreds of years. Even though scientists continue to be at odds over the human impact on climate events, what’s undeniable is that crops are fighting extremes and crops feed the meat humans eat.
On top of that, honeybees are dying or just disappearing en mass.
No definitive study is telling bee farms why the U.S. is losing the bee population, but those bees pollinate crops.
Scientists are working on the food insecurity problem, but it will take time to fix what ails it.
The challenge now is how to fill in the gaps.
There are several things you can do now to help stabilize your household against food insecurity.
Plant a garden. And if your garden does really well, donate some to food banks to help keep others safe, too.
Take advantage of Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Coupons (Senior FMNP). The program operates June through October, and serves eligible seniors 60 and over whose income is below 185 percent of Federal Poverty Level. The program can help two ways:
• It can grant farmers’ market checks worth a total of $40 for produce at authorized farmers’ markets or roadside stands, or
• It can provided for local produce to be delivered to eligible homebound seniors or to meal sites and senior housing for pick up by seniors.
Applications for FMNP are currently available and due by May 31. For more information, please call Senior Information and Services at (206) 448-3110. Contact Susie Starrfield at (425) 388-7218 or (800) 562-4367 for applications and more information.