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What does it mean if more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food last year? 
September 10th, 2012
02:42 PM ET

What does it mean if more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food last year? 

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food at some point last year.

Stunning - and very sad.

Government data shows that children in nearly 4 million households didn't have enough to eat at some point last year.

And almost 17 million Americans were at the borderline of not having enough to eat.

This means they had to eat less because the food they bought didn't last and they didn't have money to buy more.

People suffering from this condition said they found themselves in this situation for a few days a month for seven months of the year. That's a long time to be hungry.

The number of Americans in this category shot up by more than 800,000 from 2010.

Those finding it hardest to buy the food they needed include women living alone, blacks and the poor.

With numbers like these it should come as no surprise that food stamp use is at record levels.

According to the government, 46.7 million people used food stamps in June. That's up more than 3% from a year ago.

In fact, food stamp use has stayed above 46 million all year long just as unemployment has stayed above 8%. That's some economic recovery.

And it's costing all of us... federal food stamp spending neared a record $76 billion last year.

Nonetheless, President Obama has pushed to grow the program - with the Department of Agriculture running radio ads encouraging more eligible people to enroll for food stamps.

Republicans want to cut back on food stamp spending.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food last year?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Food • Food Prices
How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?
October 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign of our very troubled times:

Almost half of Americans - 48.5% - live in a household that gets some kind of government aid.

That's a record high according to census data for the first quarter of 2010. It's up from about 44% of the population in 2008... and from less than 30% in 1983.

Here's how it breaks down:

More than 34% of Americans live in a household that gets either food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid. Applications for these programs are up nearly 50% in the past decade.

More than 14% live in homes where someone is on Medicare.

16% live in homes getting Social Security.

But that's only half the story.

As unemployment hovers above 9%, more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. And as more people turn to government assistance, there are fewer people actually paying taxes to support all these programs.

It's estimated that more than 46% of households will pay no federal income tax this year. In 2010, 45% of households paid no federal income tax.

It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that this is unsustainable.

With fewer than half of Americans paying federal taxes - and just about half living in a family that gets government aid - this country is headed down the drain. And fast.

It's no wonder the crowds protesting around the country keep growing with every passing day.

Here’s my question to you: How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Food Prices • Government • Population • Social Issues • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
February 5th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Taxing basics like food to fill local budget shortfalls?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Phoenix, Arizona has approved a two percent sales tax on food. The city has a $240 million budget shortfall. So instead of laying off city workers, they have decided to tax people on what they eat. This is getting ridiculous.

It's estimated the tax on everything from milk to meat to vegetables will bring in tens of millions of dollars a year.

The tax is scheduled to last five years. The mayor says the city council could reverse its decision after hearing from the public in upcoming budget meetings.

Phoenix had been at risk of cutting close to 1,400 jobs - including 500 police and firefighters - along with closing libraries, senior centers and after-school programs.

Supporters of the tax say it's critical to keep emergency responders on the streets; and it can mean the difference between life and death. You could make the argument that eating also means the difference between life and death.

Guess who gets hit the hardest with a tax on food? The working poor, seniors and others on fixed incomes.

This tax will cause even more pain for the people of Phoenix during an already difficult economic time. Grocery shop owners worry what the food tax might do to their bottom line.

There's already an 8.3 percent sales tax on non-food items at grocery stores; and two percent of that goes to the city. But Phoenix wants more...

Here’s my question to you: Is taxing a basic necessity like food the answer to filling local budget shortfalls?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Food Prices • Tax Hike • Taxes
July 30th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean if organic food is no healthier than regular food?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Organic food is no healthier or more nutritious than regular food. But it is more expensive.

That's according to a study commissioned by the British government and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers looked at 50,000 studies conducted over 50 years - and found no significant differences in the foods. They focused on a wide range of crops and livestock raised and marketed under organic standards.

The few differences they found were about the kind of fertilizer used - like nitrogen or phosphorus - and how ripe the crops were when harvested. They say these differences are unlikely to provide any health benefit to consumers.

This will probably come as a blow to those who shell out a lot of money to buy the more expensive organic products because they think it's healthier.

Sales of organic foods have skyrocketed in the U.S. in the last 20 years; topping $23 billion last year.

Critics of the report say it ignores possible side-effects from pesticides and that organic farming may be better for the health of the animals. They say consumers who buy organic are supporting a system that bans the routine use of antibiotics and treats livestock better.

But if you buy organic food because you think it's more nutritious, you may want to think again. Plus, regular food is cheaper.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if organic food is no healthier or more nutritious than regular food?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Food Prices • Health
April 15th, 2008
06:00 PM ET

Answer to rapidly rising food prices?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Food inflation in the U.S. is at its highest level in 17 years and might get worse.

The rising cost of everything from milk to eggs to chicken is hurting many Americans – especially the poor. It's also tough on businesses, like bakeries and delis, who have to explain price increases to their customers.

Last year, U.S. food prices rose 4%. That's compared with an average 2.5% increase for the last 15 years. And the government says that 2008 could be even worse, perhaps as high as 4.5%.

For many poor people, costlier food means having to give something else up in order to eat. The Food Bank of New Jersey says the sticker shock could cause some of the poorest Americans to go hungry. They say a family of 4 is eligible for a maximum $542 a month in food stamps. They say that never lasted the whole month before and now lasts for even fewer days.

The price jumps for various foods are due to many factors, including higher commodity costs for things like wheat, corn, soybeans and milk along with higher energy and transportation costs.

And these higher costs aren't just an issue here at home. Economists say that in Bangladesh, for example, 30 million of the country's 150 million people could be going hungry. In Haiti, the prime minister was booted over the weekend due to food riots.

Here’s my question to you: What's the answer to rapidly rising food prices?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Food Prices • US Economy