Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a crucial
anti-hunger and anti-poverty tool, but a handful of reforms are needed
to boost the program's overall effectiveness, argues Diane Whitmore
Schanzenbach, an associate professor at Northwestern University's School
of Education and Social Policy.
About one in eight U.S. families
depend on SNAP benefits, at about $1.40 per meal, for food aid. More
than 2 million people in Illinois rely on the $80-billion-a-year program, which has helped
to reduce hunger and rates of food insecurity in the country, while
also providing support to families who face unexpected economic
In a recent discussion paper for the Hamilton Project,
Schanzenbach noted that despite the program's successes, obesity rates
in the nation are still high, the method of determining food aid
benefits is outdated and SNAP coverage during economic recessions needs
to be improved.
If lawmakers are interested in cutting costs during the
2013 reauthorization of the farm bill, they should reduce wasteful
spending on subsidies that support processed food additives and already
profitable agribusiness corporations, according to members of the
consumer advocacy group, U.S. PIRG.
“The way our subsidies are
distributed right now is a strong example of how skewed our system is,”
said Dani Neuharth-Keusch, assistant community outreach director for Illinois PIRG, who spoke at a press conference Tuesday to release the nationwide research group’s new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.”
Federally subsidized crop insurance is intended to help farmers manage
the risk inherent to their business. According to the report, the
current farm bill, enacted in 2008, fails to “appropriately direct
federal dollars” with subsidies that “mirror a pattern of special
“We need to push back against subsidies
skewed toward big agribusiness and inadequate subsides for fresh
produce,” said Neuharth-Keusch.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed on to a letter with 17 other city mayors calling for Congress to consider putting restrictions on soda purchases for those on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The Peace Corner Youth Center on Chicago's West Side offers youth a safe and recreational space after school and during the summer. Just before a violent weekend of shootings across the city left eight people dead and more than 40 wounded, Progress Illinois attended the non-profit's open house to learn more about its violence-prevention programs.
About a dozen school lunchroom workers protested outside Chicago
Public Schools’ headquarters today and called on the Board of Education
to phase out its frozen food model and provide healthier meals for
students. Progress Illinois was there for the rally.