Stronger than the storm, but not the ‘hunger cliff’

 (Cartoon by Rob Tornoe)

(Cartoon by Rob Tornoe)

A year after Hurricane Sandy, every major media outlet has been replete with stories how both the state and federal government failed many residents displaced and destroyed by the once-every-hundred-years storm.

However, it’s caused the focus on other equally problematic issues to fall by the wayside. For instance, did you know that today $5 billion in cuts to food stamps goes into effect?

After the financial crisis back in 2008, the number of Americans who relied on food stamps to feed their families nearly doubled, from 26 million in 2007 to almost 47 million in 2012. President Obama’s stimulus package not only raised the cap on food stamps, it added $45.2 billion to the program.

But now, since our economy is in tip-top shape and everyone has recovered, Congress has determined that they’d rather let the provisions expire and save a few bucks than continue to help families in desperate need to help.

Consider these numbers from the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition and Feeding America:

• The food insecurity level in New Jersey was 13.5 percent overall and 18.6 percent for children.

• The number of New Jerseyans living in food insecure households was 1,190,130, of which 380,170 were children.

• Nationally, 49.0 million Americans live in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.

• 14.5 percent of households (17.6 million households) are food insecure, with 7 million more experiencing very low food security.

• 5.1 percent of all U.S. households (6.2 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry or soup kitchen one or more times.

• 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4 percent of all seniors were food insecure.

We’re not just talking about people who don’t work – many of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents are individuals who work low paying jobs and have yet to recover from Hurricane Sandy. They live paycheck to paycheck, and instead of receiving the help they need from the government, they’re getting kicked to the curb over nothing more that political ideology dreamed up by rich, white men in Washington.

It might be funny if it weren’t such a damn shame, considering we could rid ourselves of multi-million dollar subsides that go to sugar producers and corporate farming interests that don’t even need them. While we’re taking food off the plates of needy New Jerseyans, we’re giving $7.2 million in farm subsidies to just 14 congressional Republicans who have a combined net worth of $124.5. million.

Thanksgiving is in less than a month. Is this really how we want to be treating our most vulnerable?


Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe, and check out more of his work at

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal