'Evening News:' Food Stamp Allotments Aren't Enough

     Food inflation is hurting everybody – even those who don’t have to pay for it, according to the July 2 “CBS Evening News.”

    “With food prices climbing, more and more Americans these days are struggling to feed their families,” anchor Katie Couric said. “Nearly 28 million rely on food stamps for an average benefit that comes to only about $24 a week for each person. Many are living hand-to-mouth, month-to-month.”

     The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Web site said the food stamp program is only supposed to provide a “safety net” to the poor. However, as CBS correspondent Seth Doane pointed out, some recipients have become dependent on the system.

     “Food stamps are only designed to supplement food budgets, but now the working poor are relying on them more and more,” Doane said.

     Food prices have increased with inflation and the effects of increased corn demand – thanks in large part to government mandates for ethanol – as a result food stamps don’t buy as much at the grocery store. The obvious solution according to Doane: the government should increase allotments at a cost to taxpayers.

     “But change isn’t coming any time soon,” Doane said. “The government won’t consider raising food stamp allotments until October.”


     According to the FRAC Web site, the federal government pays 100 percent of food stamp program benefits -- $28.6 billion in 2005. Federal and state governments split the administrative costs.

     Though Doane’s CBS report didn’t mention it, there was a glimmer of good news on food inflation that the Associated Press reported on July 1.

     “Midwest floods may not contribute as much to food inflation as was feared,” David Pitt wrote for the AP. “Corn prices fell Monday after the government surprised traders, reporting farmers tried to cash in on soaring corn demand for ethanol by planting more acres of the crop than the market expected. That could be good news for shoppers, although food prices still have to contend with rising costs for distribution and for fuel.”