Congress is considering deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), our nation’s number-one defense against hunger. Policymakers representing Washington’s 1 million SNAP recipients, 39 percent of whom are children, should consider these four facts as they ponder a vote:
1. Kids can eat thanks to SNAP. Millions of parents use food stamps to help make ends meet. In fact, in two out of three households with food stamps, someone is working. Nearly 9 out of 10 households had someone working within the last year. In total, two-thirds of all food stamp recipients are children, elders or people with disabilities.
2. SNAP is fiscally responsible. The program is doing what it’s designed to do: increase when times are tough in response to increased need, and decrease when times get better. Participation is slowly dropping from the high numbers during the recent recession. The Congressional Budget Office projects that participation will significantly decrease over the next several years. What’s out of control about that?
3. SNAP is our nation’s number-one defense against hunger. It should be built up, not torn down. Underlying the debate is the fact that food stamp benefits only last 2-3 weeks out of the month for most families. As it is, keeping hunger from the door for many families means that food banks are part of each month’s survival plan. Food stamp benefits are based on antiquated estimates of the cost of food, and designed only to support nutrition for short periods of time. Surrounding kids with nutritious food like fruits and vegetables is often simply out of reach.
4. Childhood hunger wreaks profound and lasting harm on our children’s ability to learn and prosper later in life. The opportunity gap widens when kids don’t have access to nutritious food all year long. That’s important for all of us -- our quality of life depends on our ability to make sure kids have what they need to grow up healthy and strong.
We’re urging our elected representatives to reject the harmful cuts in both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, and to pass a Farm Bill that brings us all closer together, not farther apart.