President Joe Biden will host a White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health next Thursday. He Promises His summit is likely to spark a torrent of demands for new federal handouts, to “take bold steps to end hunger”, and his summit. But neither Biden nor the attendees will acknowledge the huge collateral damage from the more than 50-year surge of federal food aid.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon held a summit on hunger and received great press coverage for the declaration, “The time has come for a end of hunger forever in America.” That year, 3 million Americans received food stamps, a rapidly growing federal program that cost $228 million, Last year, 41 million people received food stamps, and the cost of the program $114 billion, Thanks to a range of other subsidies, the federal government is now feeding more over 100 million People.
Yet hunger is believed to remain a serious problem. Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Rules Committee, declared on September 15: “Approximately 40 million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
Yet the federal government doesn’t even attempt to collect data on how many Americans actually go hungry. In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences urged the US Department of Agriculture to create a hunger gauge, but the agency did nothing on that score. Instead, the USDA conducts annual surveys to measure the volatile perception of “food safety”âwhich can mean uncertainty about who will be able to buy groceries in the future. either is not able To afford organic food that one likes.
that survey is designed for always false inspiration Alarm and democracy. latest survey, released this month, declared that 10% of American households are “food insecure.” Despite the USDA’s clear warnings on the limits of the data, politicians and most of the media take such data as a proxy for mass hunger.
Thanks to federal programs, millions of low-income Americans are malnourished. overfeeding, Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University, saw In 2015, “We have analyzed whether” [food-stamp] The participants are eating and it’s terrible food. It’s a diet designed to cause obesity and diabetes.”
A study published in 2017 BMC Public Health Food-stamp recipients were found to be twice as likely to be obese than eligible non-recipients. According to a 2015 study, recipients consume twice their daily calories from sugar-sweetened beverages compared to higher-income groups (12% versus 6%). preventive Medicine,
The food stamp has been one of the saddest bait-and-switches in modern political history. More than 40 years ago, the Congressional Budget Office warned that “it is still unclear whether food purchases increased . . . better nutrition status.”
In recent decades, governors and mayors (including New York City’s Mike Bloomberg) sought to amend the food-stamp program to stop paying for junk food. But Washington has always blocked those reforms.
Young children from low-income families are 50% more likely to be obese than other families, a 2016 report found it. While politicians portray hunger as the most serious crisis for the poor, “seven times more” [low-income] Children are fat because they are underweight.” Journal of the American Medical Association Noted in 2012.
American Journal of Public Health reported in 2017 that food-stamp recipients were twice as likely to have cardio-related mortality and three times as likely to have diabetes-related mortality as the general population and a faster risk than food-stamp-eligible non-recipients.
Don’t expect any clarity on the collateral damage of food handouts at the White House summit. In August 2021, the Biden administration quietly called for obesity to justify the biggest increase in food-stamp benefits in history. USDA revised it frugal meal planThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e., Food-Stamp) gain levels that determine “reflect current realities of providing enough energy to support current weight status.”
Angela Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute said, “Giving Snap participants more money Without restriction there would be more chances of an increase in the consumption of unhealthy items, the problem of obesity and disease caused by poor diet. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack justified the high benefits to deter the mobs that attacked USDA headquarters: “We might have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence, but if we had 42 million Americans who were going hungryReally hungry, they will not be happy and there will be political instability. ,
The summit will likely also overlook the role of food stamps and other benefit programs in reducing the workforce. A 2012 Journal of Public Economics study concluded that getting food stamps reduces rapidly Working hours of single moms. A 2018 Economic Advisory Council report warned that healthy adults are “rapidly becoming” because of the rise in food-stamp enrollment. dependent on welfare“More production” imposes itself on increasing their own incomes due to stagnant employment growth, partially discouraged by welfare programs.
Those disincentives have worsened since the Biden administration last year repealed a requirement for able-bodied adults without children to look for work instead of relying on food stamps. Secretary Vilsack declared, “Groups with generally high unemployment, including rural Americans, blacks, Indigenous, Hispanic and people of color, and those with less than a high-school education would disproportionately damaged From this cruel policy. ,
At a time employers were begging people to accept jobs, Team Biden portrayed the need to work as a human rights violation â at least for those categories Vilsack read.
Media coverage has largely equated the growing demand for free food with evidence of hunger. But fighting hunger is beneficial to politicians and influential nonprofits. Constantly encouraging people to seek help at food banks leads to long queues of cars (including fancy late models). In fact, the demand for free items (including food stamps) only proves that people prefer freebies.
If federal spending could eliminate hunger, the problem would have disappeared long ago. If the goal is to improve American nutrition, getting food-stamp recipients with more calories isn’t “close enough for government work.” As long as Biden and other Washington politicians refuse to end the federal junk-food right, all talk of their reform is false.
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.