Hunger In Rim Country


Roundup reporter Alexis Bechman made two disturbing discoveries when she resolved to live on a food stamp budget for a week.

First, she couldn’t get enough to eat. She was hungry most of the time, which made her feel anxious, depressed and vulnerable.

Second, suddenly everywhere she turned she discovered other Rim Country residents who know what it’s like to go to bed hungry.

Some 1.1 million Arizonans and 1,900 Rim Country residents depend on food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Most of them have families. On average, they have a food budget of $29 a week — about $1.37 per meal.

Come November, federal budget cuts will reduce that paltry amount by at least 5 percent — although the cost of everything else continues to rise.

Both the state and federal governments continue to whittle away at the frayed safety net on which a growing number of Americans rely. The gap between rich and poor has widened alarmingly in recent decades. A Congression­al Budget Office study found that the income of the top 1 percent grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just 40 percent for the 60 percent of Americans considered “middle income.”

But Congress and the Obama administration seem more focused on tax breaks for the wealthy, bombing foreign countries and their own bizarre and interminable squabbles than on the long shadow of hunger cast across far too many of their fellow citizens.

So we hope you’ll read about Ms. Bechman’s upsetting discoveries. Maybe you can even undertake the experiment — and live on a $29 food budget for a week.

Might give you a whole new set of priorities when it comes to government spending, with the $6 billion aircraft carriers standing by off the coast of Syria.


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