May 24, 2024

Contact: Jessica Felix Romero|

Sojourners Opposes Farm Bill Legislation That Would Increase Hunger and Nutrition Issues

Washington, D.C. – In response to the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, which was introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson, Sojourners and SojoAction President Rev. Adam Russell Taylor said:

Sojourners and SojoAction strongly oppose provisions in the House Agriculture Committee’s Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 that would increase domestic food insecurity at a time when families are already struggling with food affordability, nutrition, and hunger issues. Specifically, we are concerned with provisions within the Farm Bill that would cut nearly $30 billion in future Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits over the next decade if enacted.
As people of faith, we look to the characteristics of God to see how we should be leading in this moment. God as provider is so embedded in God’s character that God’s own son, Jesus turned a few loaves of bread and a few fish into a feast. We also heed the biblical prophets, including Isaiah, who proclaimed that our collective prosperity is tied to how we feed the hungry and break systems of injustice (Isaiah 58). Building on this ethic, we believe it is morally and spiritually unconscionable that the current Farm Bill would limit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to update the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines SNAP benefit levels. These limitations would prevent the USDA from updating the plan to reflect the actual costs of a nutritious diet, based on science and evidence-based research, while also taking into consideration the increasing cost of food.
In addition, these changes will trigger more than $500 million in cuts to Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), which provides grocery benefits to children in low-income families during the summer when schools are closed, along with $100 million in cuts to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides food for food banks and food pantries to distribute to individuals and families. This is particularly troubling given the number of faith-based organizations and institutions that have struggled to sustain and stock food banks and food pantries to adequately serve their communities, even post-COVID. We also oppose allowing states to let private corporations take over SNAP eligibility determinations.
It is important to highlight the positive provisions of the Farm Bill that would positively address issues of food insecurity and nutrition. We applaud improvements to SNAP participants’ access to nutritious fruits and vegetables through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), and ending the lifetime ban on people convicted of federal drug felonies from accessing SNAP benefits.
Any action that would make it tougher for families experiencing food insecurity is contradictory to our faith convictions, and we believe that Proverbs 3:27 provides the clearest mandate for this moment: ‘Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.’ Elected officials have an immense and sacred responsibility to use their power to create and promote a common good that dismantles hierarchies of human values and honors the inherent dignity and worth of individuals and communities. We pray that Chairman Thompson and the rest of Congress will carefully consider the needs of their constituents in vulnerable situations as they take important votes in the coming hours and days.