Poverty Line and Food Stamps


This recent New York Times article talks about how the government proposes to cut food stamps for millions of poor Americans. This is proposed in order to allocate enough money for subsidizing costs in the agricultural sector.

This cut in food stamps would have drastic effects to poor Americans. In class, we talked about how the poverty line is calculated as approximately three times the cost of food, assuming the family is eating at the barest minimum in terms of cost. Without the assistance of food stamps, food will now take a larger chunk of a family’s income every month. This will create problems for the families which are considered the working poor. Since they are technically above the poverty line, they don’t receive as many benefits as unemployed people do. With the loss of food stamps as well, those people will be in serious trouble as they have to struggle with rent, food, and bills. The unemployed people will still receive far more benefits than them, so they could actually be better off.

The textbook says the poverty line will adjust every year to account for inflation and changes in nutritional guidelines. However, the economic situation is not one of the variables.  The reduction of food stamps should be another factor, since it is an important part of calculating food costs for a poor family. If that is taken into account, then the poverty line will be raised, allowing some of the working poor to receive additional benefits. However, this will cause the cost of low-income assistance to increase, defeating the point of the food stamp reduction in the first place.

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