Deficit reduction is vital to our long-term economic opportunity and security. But that doesn’t mean it can be undertaken without regard to our national values. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives left values on the sideline when it moved forward with the Nutrition portion of the Farm Bill – that would cut food assistance for our nation’s hungry by nearly $40 billion. Connecticut’s delegation however, voted against these cuts. We thank them for their commitment to helping those who struggle with food insecurity. Now legislation to cut SNAP will be taken up by the Senate.
Under the legislation, millions of struggling Americans would see their food assistance cut or eliminated entirely, this at a time when all SNAP/food stamp participants are already scheduled to receive a benefit cut this November. Some like to point to the great work that food banks are doing to suggest that hunger is better solved by charity at the community level. But speaking from the frontline, let us be the first to say that charity cannot do it alone.
Together, the proposed and scheduled SNAP cuts would result in nearly 3.4 billion lost meals for low-income families in 2014. That exceeds the total number of meals distributed annually by Feeding America’s entire network of over 200 food banks across the country. There is no way that we would be able to make up the difference if SNAP were cut. We can barely keep up as it is. Food banks like ours need more supply, not more demand.
Taking care of our neighbors is an American value, and feeding our neighbors is a shared responsibility. Every day Connecticut Food Bank sees this partnership reflected in the generous support of our volunteers and donors, and we are grateful that this value is reflected in Washington through important anti-hunger programs like SNAP.
Hunger is a national problem and it is one that needs a national solution, and that starts with a strong federal commitment to programs like SNAP. Members of Congress will have a chance to vote again on the farm bill later this fall, and we ask our legislators in Washington to vote against cuts to nutrition assistance.