Coloradans overwhelmingly support addressing hunger in the state, but have mixed views on how the government can help, according to a new poll released today by the advocacy group Hunger Free Colorado.
Hunger Free worked with the Denver-based, nonpartisan firm Kupersmit Research to poll 400 state residents. Participants were asked about how important they found the issue of hunger, if they felt the government was doing enough to address the problem and whether or not anti-hunger programs should be cut to balance the federal budget.
“This is somewhat of a replication of the poll we did in 2010,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado. “What we’ve seen is more support in 2013 than 2010 for government solutions to hunger.”
The poll found a large majority of state Democrats (79 percent), as well as most independents and Republicans (65 percent each) agreed that hunger is an important issue for Colorado.
However, the partisan divide was wider when Democrats and Republicans shared their views on the government’s role in providing nutritional assistance to families.
Considerably more Democrats (75 percent) than Republicans (41 percent) felt the government is not doing enough to eradicate hunger in Colorado. A majority of independents polled (55 percent) agreed that more can be done.
Though 43 percent of participants reported that hunger is an issue that is staying about the same, a January I-News analysis found that the number of state residents receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits has more than doubled since 2007. Data from the state revealed than an average of 508,200 residents were enrolled in the food stamp program each month during 2013.
Opinions about cutting the SNAP program also broke down along party lines.
A total of 80 percent of state Democrats and 60 percent of independents viewed cutting the food stamp program as a negative, while only 41 percent of Republicans agreed, the polling found.
Underhill said the gap between parties was expected, but she was somewhat surprised at the level of support Coloradans had for SNAP, given that it has been a contentious political issue nationally.
“Negative rhetoric about anti-hunger programs isn’t working in Colorado, which is great because they’re really strong programs that are the nutrition safety net for millions of Americans including half a million Coloradans,” Underhill said.
Most Coloradans also indicated that the government should not cut dollars going to anti-hunger programs in an effort to balance the federal budget. Once again more Democrats (82 percent) than independents (60 percent) and Republicans (56 percent) shared this view.
The finding are heartening, Underhill said.
"For me what this poll shows is that Coloradans care about their neighbors, they want to see sustainable solutions and they don't want people to be hungry," she said.