Each month, thousands of Montana businesses rely on an infusion of food stamp cash.
Each day, hardworking Montana families get through their day on the food that food stamps help bring to their table.
The Montana Legal Services Association has a good look at food stamp and hunger stats in Montana:
- 1 in 7 Montana kids are hungry;
- 48,000 Montana kids live in “food insecure homes”
In February 2015, a total of 45.7 million Americans were getting food stamp assistance.
In 2012 we know that 48 million Americans were on Food Stamps. The average payout that year was between $194 a month (for 1 person) and $1,169 a month (for households of 8).
Here in Montana we know that $193.3 million was paid out in food stamp benefits in 2011.
In 2012 that went up to $195 million.
By 2013 we know that a single Montanan was getting about $125 a month while a household got $270 a month.
A total of 125,000 people in the state get food stamp help each month (the Montana Food Bank Network puts this at 60,000).
In 82% of those households, at least one person is working.
Those are some big numbers, and they’re big for our economy as well.
Each dollar in food stamp spending creates $1.80 in economic activity. The Food Assistance National Input-Output Multiplier says that every $5 in benefits creates $9 in economic activity.
That’s good for jobs, lots of jobs.
- It helps those working in supermarkets and smaller stores;
- It helps people in trucking and transportation;
- It helps civil servants and bookkeepers;
- It helps large corporations by subsidizing their low wages.
This chart from Food Research & Action Center really lays it out on how much food stamps help the economy compared to other economic stimulus spending:
So it helps a lot of people, including those growing our food.
Food stamps are great for creating farm jobs.
What’s more, here in Montana we know that tourists love spending money at farmer’s markets. They spent $8 million on such in 2013 and about $6 million in 2014.
What does that have to do with food stamps?
Well, many of the people selling stuff at farmers markets are on food stamps. Many of the regular residents in Montana towns are using food stamps to make farmer’s market purchases.
We know that’s the case here in Missoula, where they double your spending. That’s right, spend $5 in food stamps and get $10 in food!
Someone who doesn’t want you to have anything to do with food stamps, however, is Congress.
In 2013 the U.S. House cut $39 billion out of the $74.1 billion Food Stamp Program.
The Food Stamp program was started in 1964 by Congress when $75 million was dispersed to 35,000 people.
And when we say ‘people’ we know that 83% of food stamp benefits go to “households with children, seniors, and nonelderly people with disabilities.”
In March 2015 the U.S. House wanted to cut $125 billion from the Food Stamp Program over a period of 10 years.
This would seriously hurt Montana people and Montana jobs.
We already know that 500,000 Americans are losing food stamp benefits this year in 23 states, though Montana isn’t one.
Hopefully it won’t be.
I’m not so sure, however.
We know people like Ryan Zinke will vote to decrease the $195 million coming to our state each year.
Why would he want to do that?
I guess he doesn’t care about poor people or seniors or families.
I’ll go ahead and throw dogs in there too, as I’m sure they benefit from some of that food stamp money.
We need every single person in our Congressional delegation, and many of our statewide officials, calling for more food stamp funding for Montana.
We need money in this state.
Food stamps bring federal dollars here.
Let’s keep that going. Let’s keep Montana eating and let’s keep ‘em working.
Food stamps help with both.