The cause of hunger comes in many forms and so does its solutions! Some hunger is solved at the community level by local businesses, volunteers, or organizations – like Food Lifeline. Other times, it’s the role of government to organize a response. An example of this is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.
SNAP is a federal-state partnership created 40 years ago with the Food Stamp Act and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. It helps families with basic nutritional needs get through hard times by providing timely, targeted, and temporary benefits (less than $1.39 per person, per meal) for buying groceries.
Nuts & Bolts
Congress must act to fund SNAP in the 2018 farm bill. The first version of the bill is expected in November 2017, with a full version going to the Senate in early 2018. In a sign of trouble ahead, the $4 trillion 2018 budget blueprint, passed 51-49 by the Senate recently, includes a more than 20% cut in Department of Agriculture funding. And an earlier House Budget Committee “mark up” includes likely cuts to SNAP of $10 billion over 10 years, and apparently $1.6 billion over 10 years in cuts by eliminating thousands of schools from the School Meal Community Eligibility Provision! In other words, hunger advocates have a fight on their hands.
Feeding America’s Take
If SNAP were weakened many millions of older Americans, people with disabilities, children, veterans, struggling parents — working and unemployed — and countless others will be harmed. As a result, the nation will see more hunger and food insecurity, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs.
Food for thought: On average, SNAP benefits amount to about $129 a month per person, or about $1,548 a year. Yet, according to a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine (Sept. 2017), “SNAP enrollees had average annual health spending that was $1,409 less than people who didn’t participate in the program.” One could argue SNAP not only meets critical needs, but represents a compelling return on investment.
SNAP Action Needed
1. Congress should protect and strengthen SNAP — no cuts, block grants, or structural changes
2. Congress should strengthen SNAP by passing H.R. 1276 — the “Closing the Meal Gap Act” of 2017 to:
- Base SNAP benefit allotments on the more adequate Low-Cost Food Plan
- Boost SNAP benefits for families with children forced to choose between food and shelter
- Boost SNAP benefits for older Americans forced to choose between food and medicine
- Boost the SNAP minimum monthly benefit to $25 per month
- Ensure that jobless adults are offered employment and training opportunities before time-limiting their SNAP benefits
Stay tuned to Food Lifeline for continued updates on SNAP and other efforts to help feed people who are experiencing hunger today and, at the same time, solve the issue of hunger for tomorrow.