OPINION COLUMNS

Exploring the link between food assistance and the economy

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, October 22, 2011

A few weeks back I wrote about some statistics in the Texas Hunger Report about SNAP benefits, and I mentioned that the study said Wise County is leaving $5.9 million “on the table.”

I was able to get a few more details about what that means in the time since that column ran.

JC Dwyer with the Hunger Report explained it this way:

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

“The money ‘left on the table’ is an estimate published by my organization based on annual Census SAIPE data,” he said. “Using this data we first estimate the number of county residents who have incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line in a given year, making them ‘income eligible’ for SNAP. We then subtract from this population the average monthly number of residents in that year who received SNAP. The remainder represents those residents who were potentially eligible for SNAP benefits, but did not receive them. If these residents were to receive just the average benefit provided to program participants during this time period, they would draw down a total of $5.9 million annually in federally funded benefits.”

I also noted in my column that the money left on the table cost the county nearly $10.6 million in “potential economic activity.” Dwyer also explained this.

“USDA economists and others have estimated that every dollar in federal SNAP benefits spent at the local level generates $1.79 in economic ‘ripple effects’ as stores hire more stockers and cashiers, buy food from local food manufacturers and farmers to replace the food purchased with these benefits, farmers increase their seed investment, etc. Multiplying $5.9M by $1.79 gives us the $10.6 million figure,” he explained.

Talk about an economic stimulus package. That’s money that I’m sure local businesses would love to have.

To read the complete USDA study as to how food assistance programs are linked to the economy, visit http://wcmess.com/usda.

RIPPLE EFFECTS

Supporting-Mrs-Stacey

SUPPORTING MS. STACEY - Kids and employees at the Learning Ladder dressed in pink last Friday in support of fellow employee Stacey Bernal, who is fighting breast cancer. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

We love to hear how our stories have touched the lives of those in the community, hopefully in a good way.

Last Friday (Oct. 14), the Learning Ladder had a Pink Out day for teacher Stacey Bernal, who was featured in the Sept. 29 issue of the Wise County Messenger. The day was already planned well in advance of when the story ran, but because of the attention the story gave to Stacey’s fight against breast cancer, something unexpected happened.

Learning Ladder owner Anna Nicholas said that five other daycares or preschools in Decatur joined the Learning Ladder in support of Stacey.

“I think the coolest thing is all these competing businesses came together to support this,” Nicholas said.

The other daycares or preschools involved included Head Start, Early Head Start, the First United Methodist Church Pre-School, Victory Kids Care and Pettit Private School. Stacey went to each center and read the book “When Mama Wore a Hat” to the children.

Nicholas said her center does a community project each month, and many of the other centers expressed an interest in helping with those projects in the future.

But perhaps the most moving story was shared by Stacey herself. She said the mother of a child at Early Head Start – a person she did not know – had shaved her hair and wanted to donate it to Stacey for a wig.

It’s gratifying as a journalist to hear that their story has touched people and caused them to reach out to others, but it also is yet another reminder of just how big the hearts of those in Wise County really are.

ENJOY STEAKS … AND THE GAME

Everything is set for Saturday’s first Chisholm Trail Steak Challenge at the Wise County Reunion Grounds in Decatur. Stephanie Quarles, an event organizer, reported that 22 teams have signed up to compete.

As with any first-time event there have been hiccups, but everything has worked out.

“Everyone has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help,” she said. ” … With every road block we’ve encountered, someone in the community has helped us.”

There was also some concern that many of the would-be steak challenge visitors might be glued to a television watching the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the World Series Saturday night, but even that problem has been solved. Two 50-inch televisions have been donated and will be tuned in to the big game.

The event runs from noon to midnight and will include musical entertainment along with some tasty food. Visit http://chisholmtrailsteakchallenge.com for more information.

Leave a Reply. Note: As of March 24, 2011, all posted comments will include the users full name.

WCMessenger.com News and Blog Comment Guidelines

You must be logged in to post a comment.