1 in 7 Utah households struggle to afford food, USDA reports

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  • peter Alpine, UT
    Sept. 16, 2012 3:13 p.m.

    The food-stamp meisters must be happy with this report.
    Schwa and those who agree--you think the purchasing power was greater in the 70's? You and yours obviously didn't live through the 70's under Carter's sky-rocketing taxes, 18% home mortgages, gas inflation/rationing, and a teacher living on a monthly take-home pay of $777. What purchasing power! People need to be better educated, better informed, quit whining and start supporting themselves.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 12, 2012 8:12 p.m.


    Sorry, meant to say that poverty rates have not changed much since the Great Society push by LBJ. It was about 15% before and about 15% now. One could argue that the 15% now would be lower but for the recession, but then you would also have to take away the bubble years of the late 1990's and 2005-2007. Net, net, most economists agree that the surge in welfare dollars since the 1960's has done little to change long-term poverty rates.

  • ImaUteFan West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 12, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    "Just go out and get a better paying job." Seriously?? Do you people know how hard that can be for some people especially in this economy and with the current high unemployment rate?

    Some of you would do well to remember "There but for the grace of God go I."

  • Tmunson salt lake city, UT
    Sept. 12, 2012 9:18 a.m.

    I truly can not believe some of the comments left following this article, and the stereotype that prevails here. I am mother, full time college student, and I also work average of 30 hours a week. I struggle to make ends meet. I don't not have the luxuarys that are defined in some of the comments left here. After paying rent, power, water, sewer, gas which are needed to function my house hold, plus the rising cost of a gallon of gas, I am lucky that I am left with 50.00 to 100.00 for 2 weeks of food for a family of four. Sometimes a 5.00 pizza is what I can afford, not because I prefer to choose this over something healthy, but because I cant buy much with 5.00 at the grocery store. Yes I receive SNAP benefits which is 120.00 per month to subside what I cant afford. I don't buy name brand items and I'm a faithful coupon collector. I live on a strict budget. I do grow my own vegetables. Utah, I am the working Poor!

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 12, 2012 8:05 a.m.

    I see that no one except Mountanman addressed my challenge concerning the elderly, the school-aged children, and the handicapped. And he says, "heal yourself." Cjb says they need to "...get a job. Better yet a high-paying one."

    These pitiful responses to real needs were foreseen over 2,0000 years ago:

    "Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--

    "But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God." (The Book of Mormon, Mosiah, chapter 4, verses 19 ad 20.)

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Sept. 12, 2012 7:41 a.m.

    A lot of self righteous hypocrisy on here. I doubt many on here on have experienced real poverty. Reminds me of of one of my favorite Book of Mormon scriptures. Suffer not the beggar to put up his petition in vain. For all we not all beggars. Perhaps thou shalt say the man has brought upon himself is own misery , therefore I will stay my hand and not give unto him of my food nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer for his punishments are just. Mosiah Chapter 4. I suggest reading the entire chapter. The Book of Mormon prophets did indeed see our day and the pride and materialism that would that would define our society. I drive for UTA. Every day I encounter people in desperate circumstances. Many are disabled or have mental, emotional problems. Blaming poverty on cell phones and cable tv is ridiculous.

  • OLD-GUY Central, Utah
    Sept. 12, 2012 12:40 a.m.

    I missed a chapter somewhere. How do you tell which people are getting food with food stamps? How do you know who is working, how much and at what rate. What their medical expenses are, how old their battery is in their old car. The LDS Church does give temporary assistance to some and I know that is true for other groups.

    I would agree that there are abuses just as there are by millionaires and they get advance word on stocks etc. We should work with them and work towards helping them become self-sufficent BUT there are those who who are trying, who both parents are working but the money just isn't enough for all the bills. Should they camp on the Governor's lawn or on the lawn of the executive of some big company. The truth is they can't make it to either place.

    Many organizations, including the LDS Church, other Churches and community groups accept donations to help others. Maybe we should all cut our internet access and contribute that to help those less fortunate, especially those who are trying, That would be one bif pile of money!

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:34 p.m.

    Pawn your TV and get rid your cell phone. I think we can do better in the solution department than this...

  • Brian H. Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 5:23 p.m.

    I keep seeing these posts about cell phones and cable tv. Cell phones are not much more expensive than land lines, especially if you get the cheap models. And cable tv is often included in rent costs. Renters = the relatively poor = the ones using food stamps. Giving up cable wouldn't necessarily save them any money. Oh, and if they were to sell the tv, they'd get maybe $50 for it - enough to feed a family of four for 2 days, but it's not a sustainable source of food security. So, yeah, complain about the TVs and phones, but imagine how little return they'd get for parting with them. The real focus really should be on job training and education.
    Working hard doesn't always pay off. You can work hard bagging groceries 90 hours a week, and you'll earn enough to support a family, but it robs you of time that you could be using to become educated (expensive) and develop marketable skills. We need to remember that some people really do need help, and it's not necessarily immoral or impractical to help them.

  • Brian H. Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 4:44 p.m.

    Possible solutions:

    1. Cut all aid and watch the fittest survive. This would mean some people would compete better for work and use resources more wisely. Those who start succeeding become models of hard work and responsibility. However, this doesn't change the fact that competition for work will always leave some percentage out to dry. 5% unemployment is about as good as it ever gets because capitalism can't sustain growth if every able-bodied person is working. So, if we cut all aid, we should expect to see 1 in 5 Utahns (or more in this economy) actually starving to death because there just isn't any more income to be had.
    2. Increase aid, and some people who would otherwise become responsible and self-reliant may choose not to, because they will have a guarantee of some comforts. But, it means that the very worst off, with few skills or resources or with severe disabilities, avoid starvation.
    3. Create a welfare system that rewards people for making better financial choices, or provides basic financial counseling for people who need it most. It means more government involvement, but it might fix certain problematic behaviors.

    Any other ideas?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 11, 2012 2:26 p.m.

    "poverty rates are about the same as they were before the new deal, including among seniors."

    Absolutely not true.
    The poverty rated dropped significantly between the late 1950's to the mid 1970's and then has been somewhat stable, except between 1980 and 1993 childhood poverty rose significantly. In recent years poverty rates have edged up for people over 18 yrs and under 65 yrs.

    The problems contributing to poverty:
    1. lack of education/training
    2. decline in manufacturing (and union membership)
    3. decline in real wages
    4. more single-parent families

    Calorie dense foods are not necessarily nutritious foods. People can be obese and poorly nourished.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 1:56 p.m.

    I don't know how to interpret these findings. On the one hand there are lots of hungry people in Utah. On the other hand obesity rates have never been higher. Where are these starving people with distended bellies and stick-thin arms?

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 1:33 p.m.

    It seems that most of these commentators have never had to face real hunger. No matter what the reason, and there could be many people who do go hungry. Seniors, for instance, who are unable to work any more have no means of getting more income. Some live solely on Social Security and must live in austerity to make ends meet. Many don't even know what a cell phone is, and if they have cable, it's because it's not expensive and there are no free TV services available. Many still don't have cable and just make do. Same goes for some young families who have children to support but both parents are out of work and cannot get another job. There are truly hungry people out there, and those who say that these people are faking it simply don't know what they are taking about. Some have no concept of what it means to be poor and hungry yet they judge the ones who are.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    Esquire -

    This is NOT a political issue, and neither party has helped the situation. Billions poured into safety nets and welfare programs has NOt solved the poverty problem (poverty rates are about the same as they were before the new deal, including among seniors).

    We have three key problems: 1). A lack of relevant education. 2). Over consumption and a lack of savings during working years, and 3). Cultural circumstances such as very young marriages, and households with a larger than average number of children. Addressing these issues will take everyone, and no party has a monopoly on all of the needed answers.

    Don't let the highly divisive politics pushed by both parties cloud your thinking on this. Blaming a single party or ideology is naive and non-productive. Both sides have failed to address the key problems. That's how we got here.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 12:20 p.m.


    This is NOT a political issue. It is an education and cultural issue. You have let the current political divisiveness pushed by both sides cloud your thinking.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    Clearly it's their own fault, there can be no other explanation.

    I am amazed that in this Utah of all places people's self righteous judgments and political ideology trump their charity, goodwill, and ability to be non judgmental. Whether it's their own fault or not, weather they have cable TV or not shouldn't matter.

    Sometimes I am ashamed to live in this state. I'll now quietly wait for all the comments telling me that if I don't like it here I should leave, that's usually how it goes when someone here disagrees with the popular norm.

  • JayTee Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:55 a.m.

    Just get Obama re-elected, and we'll probably ALL be desperate for food. Production comes from the "private sector," not confiscation and redistribution by a socialistic system that provides no incentive for people to think or work. No communist country has ever been able to feed itself, and we're headed in the same direction. Bilking the taxpayer and future generations in the name of "fairness" will never be the answer and never solve the problem. I spent a quarter century working with all levels of government, and I can promise you that any government program only intensifies and complicates the problems, and makes them harder to address. Right now, things like uncertainty regarding taxes, the pending threat of "Obamacare," etc., have employers afraid to expand and afraid to hire. This will never be compensated by stealing and redistributing even more money and building astronomical amounts of debt for future generations. But we have a lot of naive people who support ANYONE who promises them a something-for-nothing lifestyle.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:38 a.m.

    LDS are a majority in UT. I'm surprised there are any Utahns who use foodstamps, because as we all know, charitable Christians will take care of the poor which is why we don't need govt. assistance programs. I recall a recent TV program highlighting a vast warehouse stocked with food...

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:12 a.m.

    Plainly, when one out of seven families cannot afford food, we should quit critcizing the poor and help them personally, through our churches, our charities and yes our economic and governmental structure. There is nothing good or acceptable in having the poor among us.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:08 a.m.

    Someone took a picture of a grocery store receipt they found in the parking lot that showed the purchased of 4 lobsters and 2 steaks - payment showed that it was paid for with an EBT food stamp card. Went to get son's innoculation at the county health department and saw morbidly obese mothers with skinny kids.

  • IdahoStranger NEWDALE, ID
    Sept. 11, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    A definition please:

    I keep seeing "We" need to do this and "we" need to do that and "we" should be taking better care of our citizens.

    Just who is "we"? Each of us individually or the government?

    And therein is the crux of the problem.

    More government, less individual responsibility and just forget God. This surely is the answer.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 11, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    Most SNAP (foodstamp program) participants were children or elderly. Nearly half (47 percent) were under age 18 and another 8 percent were age 60 or older. Working-age women represented 28 percent of the caseload, while working-age men represented 17 percent.

    Many SNAP participants had jobs. Nearly 30 percent of SNAP households had earnings in 2010, and 41 percent of all SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings. For most of these households, earnings were the primary source of income.

    The majority of SNAP households did not receive cash welfare benefits. Only 8 percent of
    all SNAP households received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits
    and another 4 percent received State General Assistance (GA) benefits.

    The average monthly benefit received by SNAP households was $287.

    SNAP households had little income.

    The average gross income for all SNAP households was $731 per month.

    Most SNAP households were small. The average SNAP household size was 2.2 persons,
    but varied considerably by household composition. Households with children were larger, averaging
    3.3 members. Households with elderly participants were smaller, averaging 1.3 members.

    (USDA Food and Nutrition Service)

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    more voters for obama. big government loves this kind of thing.......citizen dependency on the feds.

  • David B. Cedar City, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 9:19 a.m.

    Not only the current drought has been an issue this year which is going to hit hard this next year but the cost of transporting finished product that gets passed to the customer! At 4+ dollar a gallon for diesel fuel and wages and insurance plus the inflation factor we all are going to pay except the well well off like politicians and corporate moguls.Nobody should be starving in this country at all,we should be making sure our people are taken care of first before we should feed outside our country.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 8:50 a.m.

    Another story that brings out a ton of comments about how liberal Democrats are the compassionate party while conservative Republicans want children and old people to starve.

    Give me a break! Just because we want to see some limits to the free-for-all handouts to many who won't even try, does not mean we don't want a social safety net.

    We need to provide for those who can't provide for themselves. We need to provide opportunities for those who can, but haven't learned how to make good decisions. And we need to cut off those who are gaming the system.

    A large portion of welfare dollars goes toward people who feel totally comfortable on the dole. Some find ways to buy cigarettes and beer with food stamp money. Some get free stuff while buying luxuries that others can't afford. Some feel entitled to free stuff that others struggle to pay for.

    We need to demand some real effort in return for every dollar given. It will stop the fraud and may teach them some real life skills in the process. Only at the Democratic Convention are independence and self-reliance bad terms.

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    Sept. 11, 2012 8:31 a.m.

    Loose the high speed cable, Smart phones with data plan, organic food, Starbucks, nice cars, and that should put a dent in the issue.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 11, 2012 8:01 a.m.

    Has our country degraded to the point where we "must have a government who cares"?

    Are we a bunch of whiners, wimps, and beggars? We're going to cry, because Romney only paid a million dollars in taxes, and he doesn't care? What kind of person would have you believe like that?

    The motivation, and survival instinct must be re-kindled. Let's quit whining and DO something.

    Feel the urgency!

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    Hatred among men/women is the cause of our national poverty.

    The lack of love towards each other is the cause of our hunger in the richest nation on earth.

    Political parties are not religions. No one party has all the solutions to life's hardships or problems.

    There is always an endless supply of money for wars, lawsuits, and fighting, but a shortage of money for the poverty created by a misguide society.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    "Which is more compassionate, to help them change or to make them forever dependant, permanently poor?"

    Of course it is best for all involved to "help them change" Guess what? Even the democrats would opt for that.

    However, the issue is HOW. How do we help them change? That is the tougher issue, and one that both R and D struggle with.

    I imagine the politicians knew the answer.

    An Observation - we have seen articles recently about how Utah is the most charitable state and the residents should be commended. Yet there are still 15% of the population with a food issue.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:31 a.m.

    And so we are going to vote for the party that wants to cut any help at all, who wants to erode the safety net in our affluent society? What madness!

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:27 a.m.

    Utah has its owN unique cultural challenges when addressing the hunger problem. We have a large number of young women/men who marry young (< 21), and whether they marry extraordinarily young or not, tend to have more than an average number of children. This keeps family centered financial help constrained by the sheer number of people per household. We also have lower wages generally here in Utah, in part driven by the large supply of labor from a large working age population, but also due in part to very few large, for-profit corporations which tend to pay higher wages and benefits.

    Blaming anti-unionism, politics, etc. is simply naive and is uneccessarily politicizing the issue. In addition to the above, a failure to better prepare our youth in 20th century job market skills such as math, critical thinking/communication, and science will be a long term weight on these people's ability to create sufficient value to support themselves.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:19 a.m.

    There are always reasons why people are poor (addictions, poor choices, bad habits, lack of job skills, mental issues or laziness to name a few)! If they (and only they can) change themselves, change the reasons they are poor, they are never poor again. Giving them free food only makes them more dependant and they almost always remain poor. I know liberals don’t like to hear that but nevertheless it is still true. Which is more compassionate, to help them change or to make them forever dependant, permanently poor?

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:18 a.m.

    It's better to have a guaranteed level of income for all, even if some is misused according to some personal standards, than to 'sit on our thrones while our fellow humans perish around us'. It isn't unconstitutional to not have desperation and starvation haunt our country.

  • IdahoStranger NEWDALE, ID
    Sept. 11, 2012 7:05 a.m.

    "Americans oppose cuts to SNAP. They believe it is a program worth funding and that government should — and must — do more to address hunger."

    Yes, let's get the government involved some more. Only government can solve problems like this.
    Its impossible for me to understand how our nation ever came to be great before we had such massive amounts of government. Surely as we continue to vote to send back to Congress those politicians who have gotten us into such an era of unemployment, things will certainly change?

    More government, less individual responsibility and without God's help! That's the solution.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 6:46 a.m.

    "I've seen people who were just delivered a good selection of food items going to the nearest fast food place rather than prepare food 'from scratch.'"

    Many low income families work a lot of hours just to scrape by. At the end of the day it is sometimes easier to buy fast food than spend even 30 more minutes working to prepare a meal for the family and then spend more time washing dishes. I am not saying it's right, but there is a level of exhaustion among low income families which more economically comfortable families do not understand.

    Of course we want to encourage healthy eating and fresh food is absolutely less expensive, but even when low income families take the time to shop at grocery stores, they usually end up buying the unhealthy food, (the sugary, processed food)because it is cheapest and their money goes farther. The results are the same: Unhealthy eating leading to obesity and other health problems for a group of people who cannot afford proper medical care or escape the vicious cycle into which they have fallen.

    It's not right, but it is what's real.

  • CP Tooele, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    We also have food storage and it has helped us alot as the price for food goes higher and higher. We don't have cable TV, or any toys of any kind, we don't have junk food, and we don't even go to fast food places. We don't drive a luxury car and our house is humble in comparison to today's standards. I might also add that to help our needs for food we have a garden and it's been super abundant and a great blessing. I have been able to make our own pickles, bottle tomatoes, store squash, and jams. We are also able to keep egg laying chickens which has also been a great blessing. Hard work pays off :)

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 6:15 a.m.

    Re John C C

    Yes, these food insecure people need to get a Job. Better yet a high
    paying job, high enough paying so they don't qualify for food
    Stamps. If not they deserve to go hungry.

    The fact there is high unemployment and not enough jobs to go
    around is not an excuse.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 11, 2012 6:10 a.m.

    Considering over 50% of the population gives 10% of their income, or more, to the Church maybe they ought to take a break and keep the money for their families.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Sept. 11, 2012 4:13 a.m.

    This is because businesses like Wal-Mart are the largest employer in the country. But candidates like Mitt Romney aren't interested in the plight of the working poor. They just want to know why half of all Americans don't pay federal income tax.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 11, 2012 2:08 a.m.

    So why do we have an obesity crisis?

  • Patrick Henry West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 1:30 a.m.

    So I wonder how many of those 1 in 7 have monthly luxury services in their house?

    Like....cellphone service, cable tv, satellite tv, netflix, internet for their tablet, etc. You can find a job with a home-phone.

    It won't be as convenient without a cellphone, but life is not about convenience. Part of what life is about is making choices about how to spend your limited money/resources in a manner that shows you are responsible for yourself.

    I'd even say a regular phone is a luxury item when you can have a VOIP phone like I do for $30 a year. Yes $30 a year, not a month. Checkout magicjack. Anyone paying $30 a month for their home-phone is getting ripped off....no wonder they don't have enough to pay for their groceries.

    Oh yes and shop at NPS (1700 S. and Empire Road), instead of the regular stores (I do and my wife makes 90K). Why should you pay full price for food when you get can it for much cheaper?

  • MoJules Florissant, MO
    Sept. 11, 2012 12:00 a.m.

    My parents were pretty much into food storage, that seems to be engrained in myself and my brothers. I am not some fanatic and I am sure there are things I need to add, but it sure is nice knowing that I have things on hand. Three times we lost power in Missouri for over a week each time, the 2nd and 3rd time, we were able to enjoy our full house generator and 15 house guests when they were without power, due to ice storms. As Latter Day Saints we have been told for about 70 years to plant gardens and store extra, that voice of warning needs to be heeded now. People use to laugh at members for doing that, now I hear about 72 hour kits like they are yesterdays news. We also have a NOAA radio since we are in a tornado area.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 11:51 p.m.

    Having a cell phone is no longer a luxury. This isn't the 1990s. It's nearly impossible to get a job without a phone number. And cell phones are not expensive.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 10:41 p.m.

    Iron and Nan make good points. My test is always fairly simple. If you pay more than zero for tv, if you have a cel phone, if you have a pet...you have enough money. If you don't have enough food but do have some of these luxuries...you're making bad decisions.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Sept. 10, 2012 10:05 p.m.

    It is sad, but Ironmomo has valid points. I have been involved in many circumstances where I saw food being distributed to people in need. I've seen people who were just delivered a good selection of food items going to the nearest fast food place rather than prepare food "from scratch." I've seen people who had limited means having large parties in the park, after which the excess food went into a trash can. I've seen chiildren dumping most of the food served to them in school breakfast (in fact, once I saw a group in which not one child ate the toast). I've known people who were "desperate" for food, but didn't want vegetables offered to them because they "didn't eat squash or eggplant." They were elated to have homemade grape jelly though! In our household we eat extremely well in the garden season because we have an abundance (which we are happy to share). We eat well enough the rest of the time. We don't have tv subscription because we don't have time for tv after harvesting the produce and distributing it.

  • Ironmomo Ogden, Utah
    Sept. 10, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    1 in 7 households struggle to provide food, yet 7 out of 10 households have some sort of subscription tv, and 9 out of every 10 Americans owns a cell phone.

    Being able to put food on the table is not the problem. Teaching people how to establish priorities in what are "wants" and "needs" is the problem.

    Just another sign of the entitlement age screaming they have no food, but not willing to part with their cable tv and cell phones.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 7:26 p.m.

    This is what the anti-union movement has brought you. Salaries have been flat for 30 years, while inflation has continue unabated. Your purchasing power is a fraction of what it was in the 70s.

  • Dixie Dan Saint George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 7:00 p.m.

    A two party legislature is a great first step in resolving this problem.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 6:50 p.m.

    Out of 100 of these hungry people, how many can be pressured into getting a job by denying them food? Will the old, the school-aged children, and disabled among them become "enabled" if they are fed? It's time for conservatives to stop enlarging the holes in our safety net. Let's give these people the leeway to build or rebuild their tomorrows instead of scrounging for food today.

    The children in these families are not likely to have parents ready to go out and fight for a seat across the valley in the newest, trendiest charter school. They will depend on the nearest regular public schools. Equal opportunity to me means making quality public schools the rule instead of the exception.