The 114th Congress is officially in session. We can expect another busy year in 2015 with our food donation tax deduction and Child Nutrition Reauthorization both in need of passage, but before we think about what’s next, I’d like to look back at what happened—and take a moment to thank every person for taking an action to advance our mission in the halls of Congress.
It’s almost hard to believe that the farm bill passed last year. It took three years to get through Congress and during that time we defeated several attempts to drastically cut benefits for SNAP recipients. We fought against these attempts for this simple reason: cutting SNAP benefits would be a huge step back in accomplishing our mission. Our mission is to create a hunger-free America; an America where everyone in need of a meal has access to one. SNAP plays a critical role in helping to achieve that vision because we know our food banks can’t do it alone.
While the final farm bill did include some cuts to SNAP, the majority of the cuts were defeated thanks to public pressure from supporters like you. And we ended up with $205 million in new investments for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which supplies food banks with healthy, nutritious USDA commodities.
Back in September, that new TEFAP funding was in peril. Congress couldn’t come to an agreement on a spending bill to keep the government in operation (not to be confused with the government shutdown, which was a separate incident), and so they were forced to pass a “Continuing Resolution,” which funded the government based on the previous year’s levels. The problem? Because the new TEFAP funding was new for 2014, it didn’t exist in the previous year’s funding. We mobilized our food banks and advocates to call and write to key Members of Congress about this concern. Thankfully, Congress and the Administration did the right thing and included the new funding.
In December, we came extremely close to passing the America Gives More Act which provides a tax deduction to corporations, small businesses, farmers, and ranchers to donate food to food banks and other charities. Passing anything in Congress is no small feat these days, but unfortunately, we missed by only a few votes. We hope to get this important legislation over the finish line in 2015 and we may call upon you to help.
Finally, our voice continues to get stronger. We’ve had great success mobilizing supporters to make calls, write emails, and sign petitions to Congress. You may not realize the impact you have when you take these actions, but it is significant. Our team in Washington, DC constantly hears from Members of Congress saying “we are hearing from your folks.” As the director of advocacy that’s music to my ears. But in 2015, we need to be better. We need to be louder. Thank you for your support.
Brett Weisel is the Director of Advocacy for Feeding America.Tags: Hunger in the News , Advocacy