by Lynda Carson

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]akland — On January 20, President Barack Obama gave the State of the Union address and focused mainly on the middle class, while apparently abandoning the needs of the poor. With one in five children currently needing food stamps to survive in America, the great recession is far from over, and the federal minimum wage needs to increase to become a living-wage all across the nation.
In early February, the Obama administration is expected to submit its 2016 federal budget to Congress and the stage is being set for the Democrats and Republicans to join together again for another attack on the safety net and Social Security, in the name of sequestration and austerity. This ongoing attack on the poor is happening when millions of children in our country are going hungry.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual Families and Living Arrangements report released on January 28, 2015, the number of children receiving food stamps remains higher than it was before the so-called great recession in 2007.
The rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled since 2007. During 2014, an estimated 16 million children, or about one in five, received food stamps compared with the roughly 9 million children, or one in eight, that received food stamp assistance before the so-called great recession began.
During 2013, the average monthly food stamp benefit for one individual in California was $151.44. And during 2011, in California’s 13th Congressional District, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s district, 11,899 households received food stamps, including 16 percent of households with one or more people 60 years or older, and 76.8 percent of households with children under 18. Around 46.6 percent of the households income was below the poverty level, with the median income around $27,441.
The latest report also reveals that of the 73.7 million children in the United States, 10 percent live with a grandparent (7.4 million), 79 percent live with at least one sibling (58.5 million), 15 percent have a stay-at-home mother (10.8 million), and 0.6 percent have a stay-at-home father (420,00). At least 38 percent of the children under 18 have at least one foreign-born parent (28.3 million). Additionally, the share of children who live with one parent only has tripled since 1960, from 9 percent to 27 percent.
Less than half (48 percent) of households today are married couples, compared to 76 percent that were married in 1940. In 2014, the median age men got married was 29, and the median age for women was 27, compared to age 24 for men in 1947, and age 21 for women that same year. Records also reveal that presently 36 percent of men age 30 to 34 have never been married, and that, on average, married couples have more children than either single mothers or fathers.
Lynda Carson may be reached at

 “The Children Are Starving.” Art by Kaethe Kollwitz, lithograph, 1924
“The Children Are Starving.” Art by Kaethe Kollwitz, lithograph, 1924