"The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a proposed $40 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).
"Under the proposed legislation, four to six million individuals would lose their SNAP benefits entirely, 850,000 households would lose an average $90 per month in SNAP benefits, and 210,000 children would lose free school meals.
"The proposed farm bill cuts to the SNAP program combined with the scheduled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) cuts to SNAP–scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1, 2013–together would result in the loss of about 3.4 billion meals provided to low-income Americans in 2014. This exceeds the total number of meals Feeding America's national network of food banks is projected to distribute next year (see chart).
"Charity absolutely cannot make up for this cut to federal food assistance. If enacted, these cuts by Congress would seriously jeopardize the ability of millions of Americans to afford three square meals a day.
"About 76 percent of households currently receiving SNAP benefits include a senior citizen, a child, or someone who is disabled. Lack of adequate nutrition can have devastating health consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations like these. Malnutrition stunts the growth and development of children, and puts seniors at risk of developing serious health problems.
"This proposed cut of $40 billion dollars over ten years will result in the loss of more than 15 billion lost meals, according to Feeding America estimates. If divided evenly across Feeding America's national network of 202 food banks, every food bank would have to provide an additional 7.5 million meals each year for the next ten years.
"Food banks are already struggling to keep up, and we simply cannot make up for billions of lost SNAP meals. These cuts will only serve to increase hunger and its associated impact on health care costs, workforce productivity and the ability of children to learn in school.
"While we understand that our nation's leaders are attempting to balance the budget and to be fiscally responsible, making cuts to a program that accounts for less than two percent of the federal budget and helps the poorest and most vulnerable of our neighbors put food on the table is short-sighted. It would significantly affect struggling families and charities. We urge Congress to maintain Washington's long-standing, bipartisan commitment to protecting programs like SNAP and reject these cuts to SNAP."
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