Louisiana’s food insecurity rate – the percentage of households in the state that lack consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle – has dropped in recent years, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). But nearly 300,000 Louisianans—15.8% of the state’s households—still struggle to afford healthy food, and food insecurity in the Pelican State remains above both U.S. and Southern averages. Louisiana Budget Project’s Anti-Hunger Policy Advocate, Danny Mintz, dives into the numbers and how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps families make ends meet:
While the drop in Louisiana’s food insecurity rate is welcome news, the latest figures also serve as a vital reminder of the important role that state and federal programs, such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), play in reducing food insecurity and keeping families safe from acute hunger. Last year, SNAP reduced poverty in Louisiana by 1.9% and child poverty in the state by 3.8%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – the second largest reductions attributable to SNAP of any state in the nation.
Despite SNAP’s importance as an anti-hunger measure, the USDA has proposed a rule change that would take SNAP access away from 3.1 million people, nationwide. You can submit a comment opposing that change here. The deadline to comment is Sept. 23.
Invest in Louisiana’s children
The Legislature made a long-overdue investment in Louisiana’s youngest citizens this year, allocating new dollars for early care and education programs after years of devastating cuts. But it’s not enough. Libbie Sonnier-Netto, Executive Director of Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, writes in The Advocate about the continued unmet need in the Bayou State, and what candidates for office can do to ensure our children have the foundation they need for future success:
Candidates can pledge to support the Louisiana Early Childhood Care & Education Commission’s LA B to 3 plan; increase infant and toddler child care reimbursement rates to reflect the true cost of quality care; increase pay for early childhood educators in child care centers, who currently earn a median wage of $8.95 an hour, through mechanisms such as the School Readiness Tax Credit for teachers; review existing dedicated funds and identifying opportunities to redirect them to quality early care and education; and commit to early care and education as a top priority for any new or expanded revenue.
Student parents could use more help
With the cost of quality childcare often rivaling the cost of in-state tuition at a public university, the already difficult job of completing a degree while raising kids is made even more difficult. A recent report by Melissa Emrey-Arras of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights a little-known federal program that could make it a bit easier for low-income parents pursuing a degree, and what it would take to make the program more effective:
[The U.S. Department of] Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program helped about 3,300 students pay child care costs for about 4,000 children in 2016-2017. Another 4,200 children were on waiting lists to receive assistance. Most CCAMPIS participants paid some child care fees after receiving subsidies—the median payment each month was about $160. Education measures participants’ persistence in school and graduation rate to assess the performance of the CCAMPIS program. However, flaws in its calculations of these two measures prevented Education from reporting reliable results, making it difficult for Education and Congress to evaluate the program’s effectiveness.
Equitable policies are more important than ever
The release of the first round of U.S. Census data earlier this week provided a glimpse into how the nation is doing. And, the news for many of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens is not good. Nationally, More children were uninsured in 2018 than the year before reversing years of gains. And, the poverty rate while slowly decreasing by the official measure was flat by the more comprehensive Supplemental Poverty Measure. Hannah Matthews of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has the numbers and explains why persistent racial disparities within these numbers matters:
Across nearly all ages, racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately poor compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be poor (29.5 and 23.7 percent respectively) compared to 8.9 percent of non-Hispanic white children, despite high levels of work among their families. Because today’s child cohort is the country’s first to be majority children of color, the circumstances of children of color are more important than ever to our country’s future.
Danilo Trisi of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities provides a breakdown of the impact of social safety net programs and the number of Americans each lifts out of poverty. He also details the threats these programs face under the current administration in Washington D.C.
Number of the Day:
16.7 percent – Louisiana Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2018. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)