Both the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees are making wrong-hearted decisions as they each mark up a farm bill with significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps). This is the programs that:
- Keeps millions of our community members from going hungry (over 25% of our children receive food support through SNAP, and the school meals connected to SNAP eligibility)
- Puts $1.79 into local communities for every dollar of SNAP spending
- Lifts nearly four million Americans out of poverty (1.2 million more in February 2013 than in February 2012)
- Is the most effective, efficient source of assistance to people who are unemployed or under-employed, or those facing emergency situations such as hurricanes, floods or tornadoes
- Keeps children healthy (a recent study showed that children in families receiving SNAP were more likely to be classified as “well” than those in eligible families who did not receive SNAP).
In their attempts to reduce the deficit, House and Senate members need to focus on areas of the farm bill that can be further cut without increasing hunger and endangering the wellbeing of our children – our hope for a healthy future.
Corporations, including those profiting from food production and international sales, take advantage of loopholes to pay little or no federal taxes. These sources should be tapped rather than placing further burdens on families who struggle to put food on their tables.
The Hebrew Scriptures call us to feed even our enemies if they are hungry: “If your enemies are hungry, give them to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21) We must be responsible for providing for our children and those who are unable to provide for themselves.
Further, Matthew relates Jesus’s call to us to care for those in need: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink” (Mt 25:25). That is the Gospel call.