Earlier this month Congress passed a bipartisan budget agreement for 2017. It included increased funding for TEFAP and fully funded the expected caseloads for other federal nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and school meals.
Mere weeks later we now have a proposed budget from the President’s for 2018 which stands in striking contrast, cutting and even eliminating entire programs that fight hunger in our country. The largest single cut is to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) – more than $190 billion over 10 years. That’s 25% of the entire program. Food Lifeline is dedicated to ending hunger in Western Washington, but we know that for every meal we provide, SNAP provides four. There is no way the emergency food system can make up for this level of cuts to SNAP.
And how are these cuts made? More detailed analysis is available through the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but here’s the highlights:
- Shifting the responsibility for 25% of the benefit amount to states to save the federal government $116 billion – this would mean $2.5 billion from Washington State alone
- Eliminates automatic eligibility for individuals receiving other income-dependent benefits to save $31 billion
- Limits benefits for jobless adults even when there are no jobs or job training opportunities available $20 billion
- Limits the minimum benefit of $16 a month, the amount that many seniors receive to save $2.7 billion – a reduction of $8.5 million in benefits for Washington households
- Lowering the cap for benefit levels regardless of family size to save $1.8 billion
In addition to SNAP, the rest of the safety net is cut to the breaking point. Cuts to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) for purchases and distribution support for food to be distributed through the food bank network would make it harder for us to do our job. Several other programs are eliminated entirely including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), and the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) – all programs that provide food support for the most vulnerable in our communities.
Budgets are documents that reflect our values as a nation. At Food Lifeline we don’t think that this budget is a reflection of what is important to people in our region. We believe in making sure the most basic of needs – enough food to eat – are met for our neighbors whether they’re in Kindergarten or in their golden years. This is our opportunity to let our Congressional delegation know that these cuts are unacceptable.
- Send a message to your Congressional representatives
- Find us on Facebook and Twitter and share out messages
- Add your name or your organization to the sign on letter opposing these cuts
Many of our national partners have released statements as well. You can read analysis and reactions from Feeding America and the Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC).