House leaders are proposing a massive cut to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), America’s frontrunner in combatting hunger. This new proposal consists of a $40 billion reduction in funding, and SNAP households across the board would be feeling the pinch beginning as soon as November.
Potential cuts reveal stark and sobering statistics that millions of Americans would face:
- The average benefit per person, per meal would decrease to below $1.40, dangerously low to maintain the minimum standards of a healthy diet;
- 210,000 kids would be cut from free school meals;
- SNAP cuts would be the equivalent of taking away 21 meals per month from a four-person household; and
- 170,000 veterans would lose out on food benefits.
SNAP’s success record of efficiency, return on investment, and growing the economy cannot be disputed. SNAP is regarded as the most well-run major government assistance program, with an efficiency rating of 96 percent. Additionally, its payoffs have resulted in generating $9 for every $5 in 2011 spending. Also in 2011, SNAP nearly halved extreme poverty, defined as households with children living on less that $2 per person, per day.
The lingering effects of recession have caused SNAP participation to increase by more than 1 million people in the span of July 2012 to July 2013. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia all saw rises in those requiring SNAP’s assistance. In 2012 alone, 1 out of every 6 people struggled with hunger, 16 million of which were children.
Now is not the time to be taking the purchasing power of food out of the hands and mouths of the most vulnerable. Veterans, those with disabilities, children, and women in particular stand to lose the most from the impending austerity cuts, as they will be disproportionately affected. As people of faith, we are called to feed the hungry, to stick up for the most vulnerable in society, to be a voice for the voiceless. We should not be complicit in allowing burdens to compound on others who already face food insecurity as a lived reality.
Join with me in sending Congress a message that it is not OK to, in effect, take groceries off the table for the hungry. Let’s show our support of SNAP and make clear our disapproval of cutting $40 billion from a working social safety net for millions of men, women, and children. As far as we can, let’s make hunger history.
Anna Hall is campaigns assistant for Sojourners.
Image: Supermarket, Ibooo7 / Shutterstock.com