How many more meals can low-income Connecticut families afford to lose from their food budgets each month?
According to the compromise farm bill passed by the House of Representatives on January 29, 2.4 million more meals would go missing each month from the tables of 70,000 low-income families in Connecticut as of January 2015. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it could be voted on early next week before being signed into law by President Obama.
This is the second cut in just three months to a program that is meant to protect our most vulnerable citizens. On November 1, 2013, 1.4 million meals went missing each month in Connecticut when the ARRA SNAP benefit boost expired.
The compromise farm bill’s $8.7 billion cut to SNAP funding over a 10-year period was made by tightening the “Heat and Eat” policy that protects low-income households from choosing between heating their home and putting food on the table. Connecticut is one of 16 states whose eligible households would lose an average of $90 in monthly SNAP benefits, or 34 more meals.
While many American families could not afford a $90 cut from their monthly grocery budget, the families of 424,000 of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, including 149,000 children, and 102,000 elderly or disabled residents, will be making very difficult choices. Each month they will struggle with the decision on whether to pay for rent, utilities, medicine or food.
Another concern is the loss of long-term unemployment insurance for nearly 24,000 people in Connecticut at the start of 2014. If Congress fails to reinstate long-term unemployment coverage, an additional 28,700 unemployed Connecticut workers also will lose long-term benefits over the next six months.
Our member agencies continue to experience an increase in the amount of families who require assistance. Now these significant cuts will shift additional burden on the food-assistance network, but it won’t be able to make up the difference.
Connecticut Food Bank’s mission is to provide nutritious food to people in need. While we will continue to fulfill that mission, cuts of this magnitude will cause harm.