Over in the other Washington, House leadership is aiming to have a floor vote next week on the Nutrition Reform and Opportunity Act. Despite its welcoming title, this legislation heartlessly slashes $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) over the next ten years.
A cut of this magnitude will mean millions of people nationally will lose all or signficant portions of the assistance they need to buy food, but all of us, whether we struggle to find food for our families or not, should be outraged. Today's Hill Blog, a news blog read by Congressional members and advocates, published this opinion piece from our friends at the Food Research Action Center. This piece does a fantastic job of explaining how all of us have something at stake here, how these cuts to SNAP hurt all of us.
Here in our Washington, we especially have cause to be outraged. In our state, 1 in 4 Washington children live in a household that relies on SNAP (Basic Food); over 1 million of our fellow Washingtonians need this program to survive. In Washington alone, these cuts would mean the following:
- 232,000 households will be forced to choose between paying for heat for their homes or for food as they will lose $90/month in benefits. That's roughly the equivalent of a week's worth of groceries.
- Another 85,000 households, primarily working poor families with children and seniors on fixed incomes, will lose all of their food assistance entirely.
- Adults who don't have children who are able to work, must work or else lose all assistance. This ignores the fact that most people on SNAP who are able to work, do work. For most of those who aren't working, they are struggling to find jobs and for many, they have maxed out on their unemployment benefits, making SNAP the sole income they have to purchase food.
- Many more low-income parents who would work if they could find jobs are also at risk of losing their food assistance, despite the fact that this proposal does nothing to help provide work or job training opportunities.
Proponents of this legislation say that it is necessary in order to cut spending and reduce our nation's deficit, but in reality, SNAP is working exactly as intended. SNAP spending has grown to keep pace with the increase in need as unemployment rates soared nationwide, resulting in an economic recession. SNAP spending will--and in fact, already is--shrinking as our economy improves.
This proposal comes fast on the heels of the news that America's top one percent earned one fifth of the income earned by all Americans. Perhaps Congress can look for ways to reduce our deficit and raise our nation's income by creating job opportunities and strengthening the services that provide a safety net for low-income workers who are striving to be independent? Wouldn't that make more sense--improving all of our abilities to increase our wealth--rather than ripping to shreds a program that helps feed our hungry?
Are you outraged yet? Then please share FRAC's blog piece on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog, and be sure to use the hash tag #madashell.