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Hon. Rosa L. DeLauro’s prepared remarks for Ryan Budget and Hunger News Conference

Connecticut Food Bank is a nonprofit organization which does not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Connecticut Food Bank does not donate to political candidates, political campaign organizations, political parties, political action committees (PACS) and “Section 527 Organizations.” Connecticut Food Bank does support policies that help solve America’s growing hunger crisis, while raising public awareness about the issues of hunger in our country.  The views expressed here are those of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and do not necessarily reflect those of Connecticut Food Bank.

Hon. Rosa L. DeLauro at News ConferenceGood afternoon. And thank you all for coming.

Let me first thank Nancy Carrington, the President and CEO of the Connecticut Food Bank, and Lucy Nolan, the Executive Director of End Hunger Connecticut, for joining me today.

Both Nancy and Lucy have dedicated their careers to seeing that every man, woman, and child in our state has access to the food and nutrition they need to thrive. Nancy, Lucy, thank you so much for your hard work and commitment to this great cause.

Over Nancy’s tenure at the Connecticut Food Bank, it has gone from distributing 1.3 million pounds of food a year to 260 agencies in 1984, to, last year, distributing nearly 17 million pounds of food to approximately 600 recipients, such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and low-income adult and child day programs. That is 33 tons of food per day. Amazing.

A quarter of the food distributed by Connecticut Food Bank comes from the USDA’s Emergency Food Program (TEFAP), which is just one of our key federal programs for alleviating hunger.

I also want to thank Susan Vass for being here, and for sharing her story. Susan, thank you for your courage and determination.

The fact of the matter is, in this economy, with 13 million unemployed and one in six living below the official poverty line, millions of middle-class and working families are hurting, and hunger and food insecurity have been on the rise.

Across the country, nearly fifteen percent of American households were food insecure in 2010, meaning they often did not know where their next meal was coming from.

In other words, nearly 50 million Americans, including over 16 million children, are struggling with hunger right now.

Here in our district, nearly one in seven households were not sure if they could afford enough food to feed their families.

At a time such as this, our key federal food security policies become all the more vital.

Our country’s most important effort to fight hunger, and to help families meet the barest essentials in difficult times, is SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan, or Food Stamps.

It currently helps to feed over 46 million Americans a day, 21 million of them kids. Nearly 75 percent of food stamp recipients are families with children.

And yet, Republicans lately have taken to continually denouncing these and other important anti-hunger efforts.

Republican presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich continually ridicule Food Stamps as government run amok, even though they are working to feed millions in tough times.

And in the budget they passed last week – written by Congressman Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney – the House Republican Majority would decimate Food Stamps and the rest of our federal anti-hunger efforts.

Just like last year, the Republicans have put forward a lopsided budget that threatens to break the middle class, end the Medicare guarantee, and accelerate a race to the bottom.

While preserving oil company subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, this budget proposal drastically reduces funding for priorities like K-12 education and college aid, health care for families, infrastructure investment, and medical research

And once again, the Republican budget would slash the social safety net into shreds.

Over ten years, the Majority’s budget cuts Food Stamps by over 17 percent, or $133.5 billion. That is more than the amount of food stamp funds going to 29 states and territories.

Under this budget, over eight million men, women, and children may be cut from the rolls and thus go hungry – all so the wealthiest Americans can enjoy an average tax cut of at least $150,000. 

They also plan to turn Food Stamps into an underfunded block grant. If that happens, even more damage is done.

These cuts reflect several fundamental misunderstandings about the food stamp program. For one, as the economy improves and families get back on their feet, the costs of the program will decrease anyway.

For one, food stamps not only keep millions of Americans fed. They help to grow the economy.

Republican economist Mark Zandi, a top advisor to the McCain campaign in 2008, argued in January of that year that expanding the food-stamp program was the fastest way to increase demand and employment.

According to Moody’s, food stamps generate $1.73 in economic activity for every dollar spent – because people spend the money right away, generating a multiplier effect in local communities.

But, the Ryan-Republican budget would prevent food stamps from working as intended. It will lead only to a path of more hardship for millions of American families during already difficult times. 

And it is not just Food Stamps that will be affected. Every anti-hunger program could see cuts of as much as 19%.

That means 2.5 million pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children will be slashed from the WIC feeding program.  

And the damage spreads farther than just hunger. With these cuts, 84,000 teachers and aides could lose their jobs over the next two years. 200,000 students lose access to Work Study funds. 2200 NIH research grants disappear. 

Seniors lose the fundamental guarantee to Medicare that has been a cornerstone of our American system for nearly fifty years. And four million Americans lose their jobs. 

Last week, Chairman Ryan told his fellow Republicans that his budget was not “just about math. This is a cause.” It shows.

Just like last year, the Majority has put radical ideology above basic common sense. They have put forward a Reverse Robin Hood budget that quite literally takes food out of the mouths of millions of hungry men, women, and children.

As Nancy and Lucy can tell you, our federal anti-hunger efforts make a huge, even life-or-death difference for millions of families in this tough economy, while spurring economic growth.

We cannot and should not gut them for unsound and ideological reasons.

This article was posted in Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Nancy Carrington, SNAP/Food Stamps.

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