Read the full article at Examiner.com
Tag Archives: food stamps
We need a Farm Bill that fights hunger in America and preserves the food stamp (SNAP) program. There are millions of Americans struggling because of unemployment and low wages. Yet, SNAP cuts took effect November 1st and more might be on the way depending what Congress does.
Feeding America’s Bob Aiken says, “We’ve seen throughout our network of food banks the impact that these cuts are already beginning to have — with longer lines and an anticipated growth in need. Our food banks are stretched and charity alone can’t make up for this cut to federal assistance”
Cuts to food stamps is not going to create jobs and higher wages. In fact, it will harm hungry Americans and grocers where the stamps are redeemed. Part of the House proposal on SNAP also includes eliminating free school meals for 210,000 children. Why is nutrition and education being cut?
The Farm Bill is equally important for our foreign policy. The U.S. Food for Peace initiative is the single largest donor to the UN World Food Program, which fights hunger in over 70 countries.
Food for Peace donations feed people in the Philippines, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Haiti, Mali and many other countries. With so many wars and disasters ongoing more food is desperately needed. Children are starving in these countries.
They are not asking for much. They just want a life-saving treatment of Plumpy’Nut to prevent the irreversible effects of malnutrition. Or a child whose life could be changed if there could be a school meal. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN had to cut school meals and nutrition for children because of low funds.
As George Marshall once said, “hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” That philosophy guided U.S. foreign policy during our Greatest Generation. Food was the driver of writing the peace. It should be that way today too.
Congress has to get its act together and pass a Farm Bill with a strong Food for Peace program. This should include local purchase of food as was done recently when a donation allowed WFP to buy rice from farmers in the Philippines.
We can’t just drift along pretending there is not a major world hunger crisis ongoing that is a danger to everyone’s security.
Domestically, Congress needs to strengthen our nutrition programs. Our food banks need support as they help hungry Americans get back on their feet. Congress has to realize this and finish a responsible Farm Bill.
article originally published at The Huffington Post.
Congress can make or break our fight against hunger at home and overseas. Both food stamps, to help impoverished Americans, and the global Food for Peace program are on the line in Farm Bill meetings starting this week.
With over 49 million Americans suffering from hunger, and high unemployment rates, it makes no sense to cut back the food stamp (SNAP) program. Yet on November 1 there will be reductions in SNAP and more may be coming. The House of Representatives is proposing nearly $ 40 billion dollars worth of cuts in SNAP. Their plan also calls for the elimination of free school meals for over 200,000 children.
Where will hungry Americans go for help? They will look to food banks, but these are already overstretched and cannot make up the difference. The economy is suffering and hunger will escalate in America if Congress dismantles food safety nets.
Bob Aiken, the CEO of Feeding America says, “We anticipate that, faced with this sudden drop in their monthly food budget, many people who receive SNAP benefits will seek additional help from our food banks and the agencies they serve. Unfortunately, our food banks across the nation continue to be stretched thin in their efforts to meet sustained high need in the wake of the recession.”
Food stamps have a history of helping Americans living in poverty. In 1939 food stamps were first introduced to help low-income families. Studies showed the needy were getting more nutritious foods as a result. Grocers liked the plan because the stamps were redeemed to buy food at their stores.
As America entered World War II, food stamps were seen as vital for keeping the whole nation strong. In 1943, because Americans were back at work in large part, the need for food stamps ended. Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard called the program “an outstanding success.” The U.S. did continue food aid with school lunch programs and relief for the handicapped and elderly during these war years.
Today, Congress wants to roll back food stamps before economic recovery has taken place. Their plan puts more strain on the nation’s hungry and food bank system. Their plan takes away school meals. What they should do is strengthen the food stamp plan and the Federal Emergency Food Assistance (TEFAP) program which supports food banks. When jobs and wages start to return then take up large reductions in food stamps.
The Food for Peace program is also a major part of the Farm Bill. Congress has to decide the level of funding. Food for Peace supports hunger relief in Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Haiti, Mali, Yemen and many other countries. It’s an extension of Wickard’s World War II philosophy that “Food will win the war and write the peace.”
No country or region will have stability if it suffers from malnutrition. That is why Food for Peace, as well as the McGovern-Dole global school lunch plan, need support in Congress. As Dwight Eisenhower said, hungry children scrapping in garbage heaps cannot be expected to become apostles of peace. We need to wage war against hunger and want. Food for Peace is the largest supplier of the UN World Food Programme, the lead hunger fighting organization.
International food aid makes up less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget. So there is no savings to cost cut here. What cuts would do is sink our foreign policy.
Congress has a lot on its plate as it starts back to work. Decisions in the coming weeks can drastically impact the hungry here at home and abroad. That will be a legacy of this Congress, how it responds to these difficult times.
Americans must continue to give their input as to how to run things. Leadership can come from any corner. Now is the stretch run for the Farm Bill. As Amelia Kegan, a policy analyst for Bread for the World says, “It’ll be an intense period, but as you well know, this is often the most important part of any race.”
Originally published at the Huffington Post
On Tuesday the charity Feeding America warned of the consequences of the House Agriculture Committee’s cuts to food stamps on the Farm Bill. The House committee currently plans to cut $16.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP, or food stamps).
The cuts to food stamps would also mean that “nearly 300,000 children would lose their free school meals,” according to Feeding America. Children who were eligible for the free meals because their family received food stamps would lose access to a critical safety net.
Vicki Escarra, the president of Feeding America, asks, “What will households do to make up for this loss in food assistance? The vast majority of SNAP recipients have extremely low incomes – 20 percent of these households have no income at all…Proposed cuts would mean that some low-income Americans may literally go without food.”
The proposed cuts come at a time when 49 million Americans are suffering from hunger and unemployment rates are high.
For children and their families a free school meal is a safety net, especially in tough economic times. Since the early 1900s when Cincinnati school teacher Ella Walsh and other innovators started serving “penny lunches” to needy children, school feeding has evolved. By 1946 Harry Truman signed into law the National School Lunch Act leading to free or reduced-price lunches for children in need.
Today, child hunger is escalating in the United States and the loss of free school meals is a major blow to the fight to end hunger in America. Over 20 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from hunger, or “food insecurity,” according to Feeding America. Some counties in the U.S. have child hunger rates well over 40 percent.
Zavala County in Texas has over 48 percent of its children suffering from hunger, with Starr Country in Texas at just over 45 percent. Imperial County of California and Luna County in New Mexico are third and fourth on this list with 43 percent hunger rates. Yuma County in Arizona has 42 percent of its children suffering from hunger. The list goes on and on, with other counties well over 30 or 40 percent in child hunger rates.
Meanwhile the cuts to food stamps will mean an increased strain on already overstretched food banks. Escarra adds, “If these cuts to SNAP are passed, the food banks in Feeding America’s network will be even more overwhelmed with people seeking food assistance. The food pantries, soup kitchens, and other organizations that are served by Feeding America are already stretched to the limit.”
The full impact of this summer’s drought on food prices may not be felt for months. But if food prices become high over a significant period of time, then foodbanks will be stretched even more. The ranks of the hungry in the United States will struggle even more to find safety nets. Congress can change this by committing to ending hunger in America.
Brett Weisel, the director of advocacy for Feeding America, says that “supporting federal anti-hunger programs isn’t about giving a handout. It’s about providing help up. So that those in need can achieve more. When people in our communities don’t have enough food to get through the day, it costs us all. Hunger creates health problems. Children struggle to learn. Workers are less productive. Opportunities are lost.”
Article first published as House Plan Eliminates Free School Meals for Nearly 300,000 Children on Blogcritics.