January 28, 2014

Statement attributable to Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America:

"Feeding America strongly opposes the $8.6 billion cut to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) included in the final version of the farm bill, which Congress is expected to vote on tomorrow. The bill would cause an estimated 850,000 low-income households to lose an average $90 in monthly benefits; and which follows an approximately $11 billion cut to SNAP benefits impacting every SNAP household that took place on November 1 of last year.

"The effect of this cut would be concentrated in 15 states and the District of Columbia and would equate to about 34 lost meals per month for impacted households, and a total of 3.2 billion lost meals over 10 years, according to estimates by Feeding America.

"Although national unemployment rates are slowly improving, economic recovery remains elusive for millions of low-income families. Food banks and other charities remain stretched in their efforts to meet sustained high demand. The farm bill cuts to SNAP will surely increase demand at food banks and pantries in the impacted states, particularly coming on top of the November cuts that affected all SNAP participants.

"Congress should be strengthening and protecting anti-hunger programs like the Supplemental SNAP, not cutting benefits, especially at a time of high need.

"SNAP is an investment in our collective future, helping those who have fallen on hard times put food on the table and get back on their feet. More than 90 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes at or below the poverty line, and 76 percent of SNAP households include a senior, child, or disabled person.

"Feeding America is pleased that the conferees rejected deeper cuts and harmful policy changes to SNAP contained in the House-passed farm bill, which would have cut benefits or eligibility for millions more people. We also deeply appreciate that the final agreement includes an additional $205 million investment in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides nutritious food to food banks and other emergency food providers, as well as a new dairy donation program that will benefit low-income families when dairy prices fall below a certain threshold. While the additional TEFAP funds will not replace the meals lost from the SNAP cuts, they are a critical investment that will help our nation's food banks better meet increased demand in their communities.

"While we cannot support the farm bill agreement because of the deep cuts to SNAP, we also recognize that failure to pass this farm bill would not ensure a better long-term outcome for SNAP and the low-income families it serves. We urge Congress and the President to work together to develop policy solutions that help alleviate the pressures facing low-income struggling families and help them get back on their feet."

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