House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced legislation this week to slash approximately $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), which helps struggling families keep food on their tables. This measure would throw several million low-income Americans off SNAP and also cause more than 200,000 children to lose access to the free and reduced-price school meals that provide them with basic nutrition at school. This legislation comes just one month before an across-the-board cut for every family on SNAP takes effect on November 1st.
Leading anti-hunger organizations - Bread for the World, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Feeding America, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Share Our Strength – have joined together with this statement:
"We are deeply concerned about the magnitude and impact these cuts would have for our most vulnerable citizens. As national organizations working to help those struggling with hunger, we know that this proposed legislation will lead to literally billions of lost meals in the coming years for poor families and more hunger and hardship.
The bill contains a number of extremely troubling provisions that ignore the reality that millions of Americans continue to struggle in the current economy. Unemployment remains above seven percent and there are still three jobless workers for every job opening. Rather than help unemployed workers who have been hit hardest by the recent economic downturn, this bill would penalize many of those who can't find jobs by throwing them off SNAP. It would end the ability of governors to waive SNAP's harsh three-month time limit for unemployed childless adults, regardless of high unemployment and future economic downturns. It would also give states an unprecedented incentive to kick people off the program by denying benefits to large numbers of low-income people who want to work but cannot find a job and allowing states to keep half the savings to use however they want – whether on tax breaks or to plug budget holes.
Let's be clear: This legislation will increase hunger in America. These cuts will hurt our most vulnerable – 92% of people on SNAP are kids, the elderly, disabled, or already working. Already stretched charitable organizations, including churches and food banks, cannot fill such a gap.These cuts will have long-term costs for society that outweigh any short-term savings. Not only is SNAP our most powerful and effective tool to combat hunger, it is also a long-term investment in America's future. According to data released by the Census Bureau this week, SNAP lifted 4 million people above the official poverty line in 2012. Ensuring that our fellow citizens have enough to eat isn't just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. Children get the healthy food they need, so they learn more at school and avoid long-term developmental and health problems. Low-wage workers can feed their families even when working full-time at the minimum wage leaves them in poverty. And local economies are strengthened, benefiting farmers, food manufacturers, and grocery stores across the country. In other words, cutting SNAP will hurt educational attainment, increase health care costs, and threaten jobs across the country. We urge Congress to oppose this legislation and to adhere to Washington's long-standing bipartisan commitment to protect SNAP.
Please contact one of our media representatives or call 800-771-2303
Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. By changing policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist, Bread provides help and opportunity far beyond the communities that we live in. We can end hunger in our time. Everyone, including our government, must do their part. For more information, please visit www.bread.org.
ABOUT CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs. It is supported primarily by foundation grants.
ABOUT MAZON: A JEWISH RESPONSE TO HUNGER
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. For more information, please visit mazon.org.
ABOUT SHARE OUR STRENGTH'S NO KID HUNGRY CAMPAIGN
No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through its Cooking Matters program. This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. The No Kid Hungry campaign's work to increase summer meals participation is generously supported by national sponsor the Arby's Foundation and Sodexo Foundation. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.