Op-eds and Columns Underscore Need for Congress to Protect SNAP

SNAP and the Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is moving forward in the Senate, and SNAP is emerging as a topic of conversation and questions.

The Farm Bill Should Protect Hungry Kids
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Huffington Post, June 6, 2012

“Over the past two years, I’ve traveled throughout New York meeting with farmers and anti-hunger advocates to develop our priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill.

“These conversations…made it clear to me how important SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is, not only to our struggling families who rely on these benefits to put food on their tables, but to farmers whose produce is being purchased by so many Americans at farmers markets and grocery stores using food stamps.

“For every dollar that’s invested into the SNAP program, we get $1.71 back in return. This money pays the salaries of grocery clerks as well as the truckers who haul the food and produce across the country. In addition, the USDA estimates that 16 cents goes back to the farmer who grows the produce. As Moody’s economist Mark Zandi put it, “The fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the SNAP/food stamp program.”

“[T]he Farm Bill that passed out of the Agriculture Committee last month proposes cutting $4.5 billion from the SNAP program over 10 years in the name of fiscal belt-tightening.

“[A]ccording to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this would mean a loss in benefits of about $90 a month, a devastating amount of money for millions of struggling families[.]

“This is why I voted against the Farm Bill in committee last month and it’s why today I introduced an amendment to restore the $4.5 billion in funding to SNAP.

“We can afford a fully funded SNAP program that provides our struggling families with the nutrition and assistance they need.

Now is not the time to cut feeding programs
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH)
The Hill’s Congress Blog
“I am deeply concerned about the cuts proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s most important anti-hunger program…This is not the time to cut feeding programs. Hunger rates are steadily increasing.  Dispiriting high rates of joblessness and homelessness are a reality in communities across the nation urban, suburban and rural alike. SNAP is an essential lifeline for millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table while paying for basic necessities…If Congress cuts this program, what will be left for the millions of seniors who are currently forced to choose between purchasing essential medication and buying groceries? How many children will become hungrier and lack the nutrients they desperately need to grow and learn?…I refuse to stand by and watch this Congress deny the hungry and needy among us. We must not balance the budget on the backs of needy families, seniors, children and the disabled.”

Editorial: Food Stamps and the Farm Bill
The New York Times, June 12, 2012
“Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, should make sure that the Gillibrand amendment gets [a vote], and then he must rally Senate Democrats to pass it. A vote for Senator Gillibrand’s proposal would send an important message about priorities. For the Democratic-led Senate to allow any reduction to food stamps is no way to open negotiations with the House.”

Editorial: Congress shouldn’t pass Farm Bill that sacrifices food stamps
The Seattle Times, June 17, 2012
“The cuts would slice benefits in 234,000 Washington state households by an average of $90 each…. The program meets fiscal restraint goals on its own. Enrollment is attuned to changes in the economy; as people find jobs fewer are eligible for food stamps. Nearly half of food stamp recipients are children. One in four children in Washington state live in households where the family struggles to have enough food on a regular basis. At a time when much of America’s focus is rightly trained on education, it is worth reminding the Senate that children with empty stomachs are less likely to do well in school. The Senate should pass Gillibrand’s amendment and set the correct tone for negotiations with the House.”

Op-ed: Food stamps are critical in fight against hunger
John M. Dumais, President and CEO, New Hampshire Grocers Association, Ellen Finberg, Executive Director, Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire
Concord Monitor, June 14, 2012
“Families forced to take advantage of food stamps have nearly doubled in number in [New Hampshire] since 2008. Congress is looking at weakening the program, and we’re worried. …[W]ith over one in five children at risk of hunger and poverty at record levels, now is no time to cut back on programs like SNAP that address hunger and poverty and bring dollars into local economies. We respectfully ask our congressional leaders to reject efforts to diminish this important, effective weapon in the fight against hunger here and across the nation.”

Letter to the Editor: In Defense of SNAP
Marlene Kozak, CEO, Westmoreland County Food Bank
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 16, 2012
“Our food bank saw an increase in requests for food assistance from this time last year. Without SNAP, the increased demand on charities like ours would be crippling. … We strongly urge our nation’s leaders to protect anti-hunger programs like SNAP. “

Column: Local food summit’s missing ingredient: Congress
David Sarasohn
OregonLive.com, June 16, 2012
“”The House bill takes $33 billion out of nutrition, and I’m not willing to let that happen,” says Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., who as the Northwest’s only member of the House Agriculture Committee has a close-up view of the process. He’s also seen Oregon’s free and reduced-price school lunch numbers swell up, along with food stamp and summer food program use.  “You don’t want to balance the budget on the backs of little kids. [,]” [said Schrader].