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Advocacy Doesn't Take a Recess

FEDERAL LEVEL:

Shortly before Congress adjourned for a month long recess, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced his plans to introduce legislation that proposes to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) by $40 billion over the next ten years. This proposed cut would be a devastating blow to the children, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income people who need SNAP to help them put food on their tables. The proposed cuts would do the following:

  • Take away $90 per month in food assistance for 232,000 low-income Washington households with high heating costs.
  • Eliminate all SNAP benefits entirely for an additional 85,000 Washington households, primarily working poor families with children and seniors living on fixed incomes.
  • Impose a work requirement on all SNAP recipients to continue to receive benefits. This proposal ignores the fact that most SNAP recipients who can work, do work but need SNAP to supplement their low wages in order to feed their families. The remaining SNAP caseload is primarily those who cannot work including children, seniors, and people whose disabilities prevent them from working. This proposal would also eliminate benefits for those individuals who are looking for work but who have been unable to find a job in our struggling economy, that is, individuals for whom unemployment benefits have run out such that SNAP truly is their one remaining source of income for food.

Majority Leader Cantor announced his plans to introduce this legislation when Congressional members return to D.C. in early September. Cuts like those proposed here will deepen the need for emergency food services but charitable hunger relief organizations are already struggling to meet increased need for services while experiencing statewide shortages in private food and monetary donations. A recent study from the anti-hunger advocacy organization Bread for the World found that the proposed cut to SNAP is roughly equivalent to all of the food purchasing and operations costs for every single charitable food provider in the nation. In other words, proposing to cut SNAP by $40 billion is an implicit direction to food banks to double our efforts. Charity partners with government programs but cannot substitute for the vital state and federal nutrition programs that provide a safety net for hungry families.

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