When Congress returns from its vacation in a few weeks the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider a bill that slashes $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. A cut that size eliminates benefits for up to four million people in the U.S. In Georgia alone, about 168,000 people are at risk of losing their SNAP benefits under the proposal.
The 168,000 Georgians who stand to lose benefits under the proposal are extremely poor. They likely lack basic job skills, including reading, writing and basic mathematics. Their average gross income is far below the poverty line, about $2,500 per year.
The House is also expected to include a measure that gives states an incentive to end SNAP benefits for low-income, unemployed adults and their children. This draconian measure, known as the Southerland Amendment, allows states to keep half of the “savings” they generate by taking SNAP benefits away from these families. States could then use that money for anything, including passing new tax cuts or corporate subsidies.
This $40 billion in cuts proposed by the House will come on top of a benefit cut for all families receiving SNAP benefits already set to take place November 1. For families of three, this already enacted cut will be about $29 per month, bringing their average SNAP benefits down to about $1.40 per person per meal from about $1.50.
Think for a moment about what this is doing to the children of this nation and how that impacts the future. We have a national vision to end poverty and our SVdP Georgia mission is to help people become self-sufficient and stable. These cannot be achieved, ever, if hunger continues to plague those struggling to make ends meet. Consider:
Nearly half of ALL people who use SNAP benefits are CHILDREN.
More than 16 MILLION kids in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
That is one out of every five kids in America!
Hunger has a huge effect on how kids perform in school. Nine out of 10 teachers say that eating a healthy breakfast is a key factor in academic achievement
So a child who doesn’t have enough to eat is more than likely to perform poorly in school – and is more likely to get sick – and is less likely to graduate.
And that will negatively impact that child’s economic future.
Which means 20 years from now that child is likely to have a hard time feeding his or her family.
And so the cycle continues.
This is NOT a political issue. It is not right or left, Democrat or Republican, blue or red. This is about common sense, human justice, and systemic change that terminates the cycle of poverty and dependence that we perpetuate through the unintended consequences of decisions made without concern for how they impact the most vulnerable in our society.
It is time to stand up and take a stand. The misconceptions and prejudices about SNAP and the people who access it are rampant. It is incumbent on US, as the front line warriors in the fight against poverty and dependence to tell the REAL story.
Yes there is abuse, there is in every program and system that exists. But that doesn’t mean we throw out the whole program to address it. Yes, we need to address issues of spending by local, state, and federal governments, but in doing so we have to consider and protect the most fragile and vulnerable in our society. This is a basic tenant of not only our faith, but of many faiths.
Our Voice of the Poor Committee is advocating on this issue – join them. Your Congressional Representatives Senators are home on vacation – call them. Your friends, neighbors, and co-workers may not have any idea of the impact of this issue – tell them.
It is time we make our voices heard. If not us, who? If not now, when?
TAKE THE SNAP CHALLENGE!
September is the Hunger Action Month, across the country. Can we challenge ourselves to live on SNAP benefits for a few days?
Many Americans do not think twice about spending $4 for a latté. For many of our neighbors, $4 must buy an entire day's worth of food, as $4 is the average daily SNAP benefit per person.
By taking the SNAP Challenge, we will directly experience the struggle that nearly 1 in 6 Americans – including nearly 25% of all American children – face every day. You will learn first-hand how difficult it is to afford nutritious foods, avoid hunger, and stay healthy without adequate resources.