Michael Petit: Urge Congress to vote no on cuts to food assistance

Members of Congress have announced a deal on the “Farm Bill” and it just passed the House by a 251-166 margin. It will now move to the Senate. 103 Democrats voted against the Farm Bill on concerns that cuts to the food stamp program were draconian. And they’re right.

congressThe deal will cut supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to an estimated 850,000 households by an average of $90/month. We urge Senators to vote “No.” With the economy showing no consistent signs of growth, this bill will cause needless pain for so many of the most vulnerable members of our society, making monthly food allotments fall even further short of what is needed.

The deal will cut supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to an estimated 850,000 households by an average of $90/month. We urge Senators to vote “No.” With the economy showing no consistent signs of growth, this bill will cause needless pain for so many of the most vulnerable members of our society, making monthly food allotments fall even further short of what is needed.

Congress already cut SNAP benefits significantly beginning last November 1stwhen they let a provision of the Recovery Act expire.  Demand at emergency food providers around the country has since skyrocketed.  Now the Farm Bill, if passed, will considerably worsen the already bad situation for nearly a million households.

The SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill amount to $8.6 billion over 10 years.  The bill has modest boosts in nutrition supports in some respects, such as greater support for people shopping at farmers’ markets and improved SNAP education and training programs. Those families cut the most will be those living in states where they qualify for heating assistance and get a higher amount of support for heat and food. The extreme cold weather this winter will expose how much these subsidies do not meet the need, and families with children will face the choice of living either without heat or without food.

This cut has been opposed by major newspapers, anti-poverty and anti-hunger groups and food banks across the country.  It is inconsistent with President Obama’s proposals to improve, not harm, SNAP benefits.  SNAP benefits are already inadequate for most families to purchase an adequate, healthy diet. A recent study shows that low-income people have increased hypoglycemia-related hospital admissions late in the month because they run out of food.  The SNAP cuts will be a blow to health and nutrition, and will ultimately cost the government more in the future than they save now. Click here to contact your Senators and tell them to oppose these cuts.

Michael Petit is the president of the Every Child Matters Education Fund.

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