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20:09, 26 June 2017 Monday
Update: 12:44, 06 September 2012 Thursday

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Nearly 17 million Americans repeatedly short of food
Nearly 17 million Americans repeatedly short of food

The Department of Agriculture said in a report that about 5.5 percent of Americans, or nearly 17 million, suffered "very low food security" last year.

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The number of poor Americans who repeatedly ran short of food shot up by 800,000 in 2011 to nearly 17 million compared with 2010, the U.S. government said on Wednesday.

The Department of Agriculture said in a report that about 5.5 percent of Americans, or nearly 17 million, suffered "very low food security" last year, meaning they had to skip meals or not eat for a day because of a lack of money to buy food. That is a rise of 800,000 over the prior year, it said.

The food-security report was released one day after the government said that a record 46.7 million Americans were enrolled for food stamps in June, up by 173,000 in May.

High unemployment and slow growth since the deep 2008-2009 recession has driven enrollment in food stamps, the major U.S. anti-hunger program, to record levels.

The cost of food aid to the poor is an election-year issue, with Republicans calling for large cuts in food stamps and Medicaid to help reduce the deficit. Democrats say the cuts are too deep.

This year is likely to be even more problematic for hunger prevention because jobless benefits are running out for tens of thousands of long-term unemployed workers, said Jim Weil, head of the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center.

The overall food-insecurity rate for individuals was 16.4 percent, almost unchanged since 2008, when it surged to the highest levels since the Agriculture Department began monitoring food security in 1995.

Food-security issues were greatest in the South, in inner cities across the nation, in families with a single parent, in Black and Hispanic households and in households with children.

Mississippi and Arkansas were the states with the highest rate at 19.2 percent, and North Dakota was lowest at 7.8 percent.

Almost everyone who experienced very low food security said they ran short of food and didn't have the money to buy more. Some 97 percent said they cut back on the amount they ate or skipped a meal, while 91 percent said it happened often throughout the year.

Nearly half said they lost weight because they did not have enough to eat, according to the report.



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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.