Now is not the time to cut feeding programs

In an effort to reduce our nation’s deficit, significant cuts to farm programs are expected. I am deeply concerned about the cuts proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation's most important anti-hunger program. 

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The Senate Farm Bill, S. 3240 or the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, saves $23.6 billion over 10 years. These savings include a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP. The House Farm Bill will likely save roughly $33 billion over 10 years. Considering the fact that the committee responsible for drafting the Farm Bill, the House Agriculture Committee, passed legislation earlier this year cutting $33 billion from SNAP, I expect the House to propose even deeper cuts to SNAP than what is currently in the Senate Farm Bill. 

This is not the time to cut feeding programs. Hunger rates are steadily increasing.  Dispiriting high rates of joblessness and homelessness are a reality in communities across the nation urban, suburban and rural alike.   

SNAP is an essential lifeline for millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table while paying for basic necessities. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $4.5 billion cut proposed by the Senate would slice a family’s benefits by $90 each month. Currently, an average adult SNAP beneficiary receives roughly $31.50 per week. That equates to less than $5 a day to cover three meals. If Congress cuts this program, what will be left for the millions of seniors who are currently forced to choose between purchasing essential medication and buying groceries? How many children will become hungrier and lack the nutrients they desperately need to grow and learn?     

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” I have the audacity to believe that Congress will not cut this essential lifeline, especially given the economic reality facing our country and its people.

I refuse to stand by and watch this Congress deny the hungry and needy among us. We must not balance the budget on the backs of needy families, seniors, children and the disabled.  

Rep. Fudge (D-Ohio) serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

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