Every five years, the Farm Bill has to be reauthorized. Due this year, Representatives passed the bill to cut nearly $4o billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Even though the majority of the House is Republicans, I was proud to see that not all of them voted for this proposed cut to SNAP which would impact millions of Americans, including the elderly, disabled and 22 million children. Fifteen House Republicans voted NAY, including legislators Capito (WV2nd), Meehan (PA7th), Smith (NJ4th), Jones (NC3rd) and Gibson (NY19th). You can see how each Representative voted here. The heart-wrenching twist about this vote is that it came two days after the Census Bureau reported that 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, live in poverty!
I appreciate the points made in West Virginia Gazette’s editorial about the correlation with poverty and hunger to a student’s education achievement. “Children who do not get enough food make smaller gains in math and reading achievement between kindergarten and third grade and are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school.” is also affected which has a major impact on student success and the dropout rate. Many at-risk students also need strengthened relationships to help their resiliency in these matter to better cope and do well in school. This is especially true of homeless children and children with an imbalanced load of risk factors.
Some critics of SNAP seem to portray the impoverished on food stamps as those who “won’t” work. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children — more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year. “
One reassuring point is that this bill, Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 (HR 3102) has been sent to the Senate. It is in committee, which I believe is the Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee. chaired by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Please contact your Senators and ask them to vote NAY on this bill especially those on the Agriculture Committee! Find your U. S. legislator here.
In America, we enthusiastically celebrate “Hunger Action Month“ in September and “World Food Day” on October 16th. We generously give away turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We humbly serve the hungry at community kitchens and provide non-perishable food through food banks throughout the year. However, in our state, “We’re very concerned with any cuts to the SNAP program at a time when one in six Kentuckians don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We’re barely keeping up with the pace of the demand,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.
Find your nearest food bank here. Many are indeed grateful for that help. But, while the poor is having billions of dollars of food taken out of his mouth, millions sit by criticizing those left hungry, instead of criticizing and stopping those getting rich from it.
Rep. George Miller denounced this vote saying: “To add insult to injury, 14 members of Congress have gone so far as to vote to enrich themselves and wealthy special interests with farm subsidies, while voting against benefits to millions of the neediest and most vulnerable Americans. I issued a report earlier this year that detailed these 14 members of Congress who are collectively worth up to $124 million and received at least $7.2 million in farm subsidies but voted to cut nutrition aid for 47 million Americans without batting an eye.” Let’s call for an investigation of this matter!!
What do you think happens, when many needed jobs are unavailable and people are without food? Who pays for the increased crime wave and police support? Who pays for additional medical costs from lack of nutrition? Who pays for the lack of student achievement likely to increase? Who pays for the increased incarceration rates that follow low student achievement? Is this how we Save money?
Our country is built upon benevolence and a foundation of community. This is why in the United States, I am proud of the largest and oldest volunteer child advocacy organization, PTA, that helped to fight for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act a few years ago and started the free lunch program in schools decades ago. “The bill increases access to vital anti-hunger measures, improves the nutrition quality of all foods served in schools throughout the school day, and provides a wide variety of supports.” We are doing our share. Many non-profit organizations- using direct methods or social media – are raising millions to feed the hungry of many ages and races. But let’s not take away their dignity and a consistent means for survival while they work toward a stable income that does not leave them in poverty. SNAP benefits are not dominated by minorities as some seem to think, but over 70% of recipients are of the majoritan culture.
USDA explains how SNAP works: The amount of benefits the household gets is called an allotment. The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household’s allotment. This is because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their income on food.
(October 2012 through September 2013)
|People in Household||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person||$ 150|
Senate Majority Leader, Rep. Harry Reid, did not suppress how distressed he was over the vote. “House Republicans’ vote to deny nutrition assistance to hungry, low-income Americans is shameful. The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation.”
- Dem Rep. Condemns Vote to Cut SNAP
- Hungry? Don’t Expect House Republicans to Help – or Care (truthdig.com)
- Kentuck.com Editorial: SNAP cuts Impact
- SNAP Cuts can Impact 875,000 Kentuckians in Fall
- WV Editorial on SNAP cuts
- Educational Leadership: Relationships impact resiliency
- On cutting SNAP: Stop this nonsense (thegrio.com)
- ‘Meanspirited class warriors’ (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Full text, HR 3102: Nutrition Reform & Work Opportunity Act of 2013
- Farm Bill
- Find your nearest Food Bank
- Feeding America