1 in 5 American Kids Are on Food Stamps, A Big Increase

February 4th 2015

Alicia Lutes

Well if this isn't solid-gold proof that the middle and lower class are not being properly served by the economic recovery, I don't know what is: one in five American children (that’s 16 million) received food stamps in 2014 — a startling jump from the one in eight numbers pre-recession.

According to new data released by the Census Bureau on Wednesday, the number is up significantly from 2007 (when it was only 9 million), as well as from last year, when that number was 15.6 million. So what does it mean, particularly when you consider the steady growth our country has seen in the last two years?

The numbers provided by the Census Bureau confirm what most of us in the lower and middle class already know: the financial gains in the economy aren't being broadly spread among all Americans, but rather mostly returned to the pockets of the wealthy.

With income inequality worsening combined with the laughable state of the minimum wage, the increasing need for government-funded social services should come as no surprise. Of course there’s been an increasing need for food stamps because we're seeing the same trends that existed before the Great Recession. Sure, there has been an increase in jobs, but not all those jobs afford a livable wage. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address — you try and support an entire family on $15,000 a year. Heck, try it on $30,000 and see how easy it isn’t.

The number of people living in poverty has actually risen since the recession. According to the Southern Education Foundation, the number of public school kids living in poverty is 51 percent, (FIFTY-ONE! Over half!) up from 42 percent in 2006. So friendly reminder: there are more people living at or below the poverty line than above it.

And what's worse? There are a lot of stats that those who oppose the need for a better restructuring of our economic recovery will likely try to manipulate. Like the fact that overall enrollment began to fall in 2013 as the economy slowly improved, and the Congressional Budget Office's statistics project a decrease in food stamp enrollment in the coming years. But there’s a caveat to that — a huge part of that anticipated decline will come from kicking 1 million childless, unemployed adults off the program.

Which begs the question: when will we start to deal with income inequality?