No one should go hungry in America. Since the 1960s, there has been broad bipartisan agreement on this principal, as well as an understanding that the government has a role to play in making sure that everyone in the U.S. has enough to eat. President Nixon, in 1969, said “that hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable. Has something changed?
The House Budget Committee’s Budget Resolution released yesterday turns a blind eye to this commitment and immediately endangers the lives of millions of Americans by cutting critical nutrition and health programs. Between proposed cuts to food support programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), and other programs that help support and stabilize struggling families throughout the nation, the impact on our nation’s children will be felt for years to come. Leaving behind millions of the poorest Americans, as this budget proposes, would lead to a deficit in human potential that this country cannot afford.
One in seven people in Pennsylvania and one in ten in New Jersey rely on SNAP to put food on their tables; two-thirds of these SNAP recipients are children, seniors, or people with disabilities. The majority of others are working adults.
Food banks and the private sector cannot fight hunger alone. Philabundance and our member food pantries are already stretched to capacity. Even a small cut to SNAP would require Philabundance to dramatically increase our current donations to support services to make up the gap. We simply couldn’t do it. SNAP is a good investment, as studies have shown that access to SNAP during childhood leads to increased high school graduation rates, greater economic self-sufficiency, and improved health as adults. Losing access to SNAP for pregnant women raises rates of infant mortality. These cuts would punish the most vulnerable in our communities and lead to the return of an America with severe hunger and malnutrition. Is this how we move our country forward?
At the Coalition Against Hunger, we help thousands of people each year connect to benefits that help ensure they can put food on the table. SNAP is a vital tool for people who are struggling. It not only helps them put food on the table, but allows them to use their limited income for other necessities. Charities cannot begin to make up for the proposed cuts.
Glenn Bergman, Philabundance Executive Director, states: “The problem of hunger is simply too big to fix without national government programs that help people survive every day, and survive through economic downturns and hardships. This budget threatens the basic living standards of our neighbors. We believe that food is a fundamental human right. And we believe that the government should too. We urge Congress to reject this budget.”
“Simply put, SNAP is our nation's greatest defense against hunger,” says Laura Wall, Executive Director of The Coalition Against Hunger. “It is one of our most powerful and cost-effective tools to improve public health. As our Representatives prepare to vote on a budget that puts children in jeopardy, it is important to remember that hunger hits every city, zip code and county—rural, suburban and urban alike. We cannot hope to have a healthy, thriving community if our neighbors struggle to put food on their tables. We urge Congress to protect SNAP and reject a budget that cuts a vital lifeline for struggling Americans.