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Letter: SNAP cuts create problems for hungry families in need

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

Sharvonne A. Williams,

RESULTS, an organization that works to end poverty in the United States and around the world, Indianapolis chapter

To the editor:

The House has already passed legislation that would cut $40 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Senate’s proposal is to cut SNAP by $4 billion. Our government is doing more harm than good to protect hungry individuals and families across America.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that more than 48.9 million Americans live in households where they struggled to provide food for their family.

Currently, our Congress is looking to cut benefits for thousands of low-income families. In recent news, each SNAP household’s monthly allocation went down approximately 5.5 percent as the temporary benefit increase.

On June 10, the Senate passed Farm Bill (S. 954) with a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27, which included billion-dollar cuts to SNAP. On Sept. 19, the House passed H.R. 3102, which denies food assistance for 3.8 million Americans, by a vote of 217 to 210. In the short run, this extreme cut would also deny 210,000 low-income school-age children meals at school and introduce drug testing for recipients.

According to the Household Food Security report administered by the USDA, an estimated 14.5 percent of Americans faced food insecurities at one point during the year of 2012. This is an alarming statistic because it illustrates that households have a limited access to food and resources to survive and be productive individuals. More than one in five children in the U.S. are at risk of going to bed hungry every night. The SNAP program is a major part of our income maintenance system.

SNAP has played a “key role in assisting families facing hardship during the economic crisis, but given fiscal constraints and programs growth, it is more important than ever to understand the impact of policy changes and balance improvements in access with efforts to ensure accountability,” United States Government Accountability Office, pp.3-4, 2010.

Members of Congress are working to reauthorize the Farm Bill, legislation that provides funding for SNAP. If Congress cuts funding for this poverty-relieving program, it will affect millions of children and families, leaving them hungry. SNAP helps to improve the nutritional status of participants by increasing the resources available to low-income households and to alleviate hunger in the homes.

“Despite being the richest country in the world, poverty remains an important social issue in the United States. The welfare programs we use to attempt to alleviate poverty actually play directly into the plans of companies that lobby on behalf of legislation lauded as anti-poverty programs. Rather than overcoming poverty, these programs line the pockets of their promoters (Government Accountability Institute: Profits from Poverty, 2012, pp.19-20).”

I applaud those members who stood up to this callousness and voted NO on the bill. For those who did support it, you can still redeem yourself for that mistake. I urge our members of Congress to urge House and Senate negotiators to remove these cruel SNAP cuts in any final Farm Bill and instead work to reduce hunger in America by protecting and strengthening SNAP.

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