Some may say that hunger is not prevalent in a city like Denver. People always talk about our nearby skiing in the beautiful Rockies, famous chefs and restaurants, breweries, parks and professional sports teams. But, what many may not realize is that hunger does exist here—and many other major cities across the U.S.
While visitors come to experience all that the Mile High City has to offer, many of our neighbors are wondering when and where they will get their next meal.
Requests for emergency food assistance in Denver increased by 56% over the past year, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2012 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness that was released last week.
- Among persons requesting food assistance in Denver, 70% were in families and 42% were employed.
- Food pantries and emergency kitchens across the city had to turn people away or reduce the amount of food provided to individuals during each visit.
- An estimated 20% of the demand for emergency food assistance has gone unmet.
We are making progress as a state to address hunger, but these numbers could increase exponentially if cuts are made to public health, safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—referred to as SNAP and formerly known as food stamps—which benefit struggling families and individuals.
Cutting SNAP would greatly impact our neighbors who are at risk of hunger, including working families, children, seniors and individuals with disabilities. They are seeking food assistance now, so what would happen if this nutrition program was slashed? It would lead to even more struggling to feed themselves and their families.
To help people meet this very basic need, federal nutrition programs including SNAP must stay strong. Any cuts to SNAP would take food away from those who need it the most. We cannot try to solve the country’s budget problems by harming those facing challenges to put food on their table already.
Polling data released by the Food Research and Action Center earlier this year shows that 75% of Americans think cutting food assistance programs is the wrong way to reduce government spending. As budget negotiations continue, we at Hunger Free Colorado urge our state representatives and President Obama to stand firm against any attempts to cut nutrition programs like SNAP and protect those who need our support the most.
Read the full 2012 status report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors on hunger and homelessness, and tell us your thoughts.