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In a stark reminder that the Great Recession wasn't just about dented up stock portfolios, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data this

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Childhood Hunger in Washington Spikes, GOP Talks Food Stamp Cuts

52c8745c43a41d6cc41f034bd6cd-grande.jpg
Creative Commons

In a stark reminder that the Great Recession wasn't just about dented up stock portfolios, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data this week showing that the number of hungry families in Washington jumped 85 percent between 2008 and December of last year.

That's according to the Children's Alliance of Washington, whose interpretation of the data suggests that more than 440,000 children in Washington - about 1 in 4 - "live in homes that struggle with hunger on a regular basis," the group said in a press release put out this morning.

From the release:

From the beginning of the recession in 2008 to when data was collected in December 2011, the number of hungry families in Washington jumped 85 percent from 88,000 to 163,000. Only six other states besides Washington experienced more growth in the rate of hunger between 2010 and 2011.

"Childhood hunger has many causes but one very simple solution: feed kids three meals a day," says Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance.

An advocacy group, the Children's Alliance is using the data to bolster its argument that a cut to the federal food stamp program - as is being pushed by many Republicans in Congress as a means to reduce deficit spending - would be disastrous.

The group notes that the state of Washington already made cuts to its food assistance program, and 11,000 families in Washington saw state food assistance cut in half July 1.

More from the release:

With recent cuts, food banks and other private food providers across the state are experiencing increased demand.

"Our rural families who are out of work with nowhere to go are getting lost and falling through cracks," says Susan Urhausen, director of the Kettle Falls Community Chest in northeast Washington.

Republicans have made food stamps a major campaign issue in a couple of ways: First, they have used the surge in food stamp use across the country as an indictment of President Obama's record (even though the increase started before he took office).

But they've also called for separating food stamp spending from the Farm Bill -- which is seen as a ploy to allow rural Republicans to continue supporting farm support programs without having to give the nod to the food stamp program they feel is out of control.

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