June 22-26, 2001



WHEREAS, the Food Stamp Program provides a basic safety net to millions of families with children; and

WHEREAS, the program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income families, which are earmarked for purchase of food; and

WHEREAS, over half (51.5 percent) of all food stamp program participants are children; 39.1 percent are non-elderly adults and 9.4 percent are elderly. Over 87 percent of food stamp benefits go to households with children; and

WHEREAS, approximately one-third (33 percent) of all children receiving food stamps are age four or under; about 68 percent of children receiving food stamps are school-age; and

WHEREAS, 40 percent of food stamp participants are white; 36 percent are African-American; 18 percent are Hispanic; and

WHEREAS, nearly 90 percent (89.5 percent) of food stamp households have income below the poverty line; and

WHEREAS, in 1999 twelve-million American children were living in households that experience hunger or were at risk of hunger according to estimates based on the data collected in the Food Security Supplement of the U.S. Bureau of Census Current Population Survey; and

WHEREAS, participation in the Food Stamp Program fell in February 2001 to an average of 16,955,435, according to Food Research and Action Center's (FRAC) analysis of preliminary data from USDA. Compared with February 2001 and February 1996 levels, participation was down by 237,900 and over 8.8 million persons, respectively; and

WHEREAS, according to The U.S. Conference of Mayors' Annual Hunger and Homelessness report, in 2000 requests for emergency food assistance increased in 83 percent of survey cities; across the cities, increases averaged 17 percent; and

WHEREAS, America's Second Harvest has found that participation is undermined by lengthy, complicated and difficult to understand food stamp applications and by the fact that enrollment and recertification entails multiple visits to food stamp offices; and

WHEREAS, the present quality control system that evaluates state performance in administering the benefits programs have not been reviewed and updated in recent years; and

WHEREAS, 31 million Americans now live in hunger or on the edge of hunger; and

WHEREAS, four out of ten of those who are eligible for the Food Stamp Program are not receiving benefits, according to analysis of September 1998 caseload data prepared for USDA by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports and urges Congress and the Administration to strengthen and reauthorize the Food Stamp Program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress and the Administration this year to enact S. 583, which would restore eligibility to needy legal immigrants, increase benefit levels (especially for elderly persons and families with children) and support outreach to eligible people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress and the Administration by October 2002 to reauthorize the Food Stamp Program, maintaining it as a federal entitlement, but improving access to and adequacy of benefits as well as establishing new mechanisms for evaluating program outcomes and states' performance in administration.