Despite the fact the US is a net food exporter, the country suffers a significant food security problem (defined as uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food). Per the USDA, over 11% of Americans, or over 37 million(including 12 million children), are food insecure or worse. In addition, the US ranks first among OECD countries in obesity, a primary indicator of a poor or low nutritional diet. (Many Americans also suffer from "hidden hunger" or micro-nutrient deficiency.) What explains this includes the fact 42% of American workers are paid $15 an hour or less – causing the US to have one of the highest poverty rates among developed/wealthy countries. The US, unlike 158 other countries, is not a signatory to the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes “the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger.” In addition, health care ironically contributes to hunger in America. If health care cost what it does, for example in Switzerland or 30% less per capita, median income growth over the past 30 years would have grown to twice what it is. Phrased another way, medical expenses push millions of Americans below the poverty line, including 7 million who earn 150% of the poverty level. (Devoted listeners may vaguely recall I interviewed the CBPP's Dr. Paul Van de Water in January 2013 regarding Medicare and Social Security reform.)
During this 32-minute conversation Dr. Llobrera begins by providing an overview of the SNAP program and its benefits. He then explains the Trump administration's proposed FY 2021 SNAP budget that would, like the administration's previously proposed budgets, cut SNAP spending by $182 billion over ten years, or by over 25%, he discusses administration regulatory reforms currently being implemented that will cut SNAP by $50 billion and remove approximately 4 million from the program, how or what rationale the administration uses to explain these budget cuts/program changes, the Congress's response to these policies and what the health care industry/health care providers are doing programmatically to address the reality that food is medicine.
Dr. Joseph Llobrera is the Director of Research for the Food Assistance team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Previously, Dr. Llobrera served as Research Associate at the Center between 2002 and 2007. Before returning to the Center, he served as an Associate Director of Learning and Improvement at Insight Policy Research, providing technical assistance and training to federal, state, and local human service agencies that administer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. He also also employed as a researcher at IMPAQ International and the Urban Institute, focusing on food assistance policy, workforce development, and health policy. Dr. Llobrera received his Ph.D. in Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, his master’s degree from the University of Washington (Seattle), and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Urban Studies from Brown University.
The CBPP's February 18 memo providing an overview of the president's proposed 2021 SNAP budget is at: https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/presidents-2021-budget-would-cut-food-assistance-for-millions-and-radically
CBPP's November 2019 SNAP Chartbook is at: https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/chart-book-snap-helps-struggling-families-put-food-on-the-table