The League joined over 100 organizations on a letter to the conferees of the Farm Bill in Congress. The letter asks the conferees to oppose cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in any Farm Bill Conference and underscores the fundamental importance of the SNAP program.
November 12, 2013
Dear Farm Bill Conferees:
We are writing to underscore how fundamentally important it is to protect and support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and to oppose SNAP cuts in any Farm Bill Conference Report. If SNAP is weakened, our nation will have more hunger and food insecurity, worse educational outcomes, worse health, and higher health costs.
SNAP matters to neighbors in every community in the country. It serves children, seniors, those who are looking for work, those working at low wages, persons whose lives have been impacted by natural disasters, veterans and active duty military. It serves very vulnerable people. Indeed, 83 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities.
SNAP benefits are meager – they now average a mere $1.40 per person per meal. Each SNAP household’s monthly SNAP allotment has gone down at least 5.5% as the temporary increase in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was terminated pursuant to 2010 enactments.
For example, a household of three now gets $29 less in SNAP benefits per month compared to prior months. In FY 2014 alone, this cut to SNAP benefits will total $5 billion and $11 billion over the next three years.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has provided estimates of the impact of Farm Bill proposals on participants, including the number of SNAP participants that would lose SNAP eligibility, the number of SNAP children who would lose access to free school meals, and the number of SNAP households that would have their monthly benefits cut. Those CBO estimates belie any assertion that proposed SNAP cuts are not cuts to the food in needy people’s cupboards and refrigerators. Make no mistake – proposed SNAP cuts mean taking desperately needed food away from vulnerable people.
While charities provide an important supplement to federal nutrition programs, they are not a replacement for a strong Federal safety net. Food banks and other charities can’t make up for lost SNAP benefits. Federal nutrition programs deliver 23 times the amount of food assistance provided by private charities. In fact, the SNAP meals that would be lost in 2014 from the ARRA cuts and the proposed farm bill cuts would exceed the total annual meal distribution by the Feeding America network of food banks around the country. Food banks and pantries, churches, synagogues, and mosques and other charitable food providers are already struggling to meet tremendous need in their communities and cannot fill the gap created by cuts to SNAP eligibility and benefits.
Nearly 49 million Americans live in households that are food insecure. Too often they are forced to choose between paying for food or rent, medicine, shoes for the children or heat – choices no family should have to make. SNAP is an important means of lessening those incredibly difficult choices. Congress should be strengthening, not weakening SNAP. We urge you to reject Farm Bill SNAP cuts.
For Full List of Signers, please see attached letter