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With the news that Congress has cut $16 billion dollars from the SNAP (aka Food Stamps program) and House Republicans warning they want even deeper cuts, the question of what kind of country we want to be comes roaring to the forefront.
Food stamp usage is at an all-time high, over 45 million Americans (and 21 million households) are currently receiving food stamps. Naturally, the economic downturn has played an enormous role in that, with the high levels of unemployment and underemployment.
But rather than look at the economic times and come to the consensus that Americans shouldn't starve and so many children should not suffer from food insecurity, what does our compassionate Congress do? Cut benefits even more. It's almost as if they think that taking away the benefit will eliminate the demand.
Feeding America reminds Congress that they are endangering the life and health of millions of Americans:
Cutting food assistance at a time when so many Americans need help is a callous departure from Washington's historic bi-partisan commitment to protecting and strengthening programs that feed hungry families.
Consider these disturbing facts: The proposed cuts would cause two to three million individuals to lose their food assistance entirely; an additional 500,000 households would have their SNAP benefits cut by $90 per month; and nearly 300,000 children would lose free school meals.
"Cuts to SNAP will drive more struggling families to local food charities at a time when food banks are already stretched thin. Make no mistake, our food banks will not be able to fill the gap caused by these cuts.
"We strongly urge Congress to reject these cuts to SNAP. They should instead seek to protect and strengthen current food assistance programs as the Farm Bill process moves forward.
It is important that Congress keep in mind a few simple facts about Americans who receive SNAP benefits:
- 76 percent of SNAP households include a senior citizen, at least one child, or someone who is disabled.
- The average SNAP household receives only $284 per month in food stamp benefits. This works out to about $1.50 per person per meal.
- To qualify for SNAP benefits, the household income for a family of three has to be less than $24,817.
With millions of Americans out of work or underemployed, now is the time to protect and strengthen SNAP, not cut it.
It's been my ongoing mantra for years: we are the wealthiest nation in the world. There is no reason why any child should go hungry. And while conservatives can talk about the "culture of dependency," have they once considered the ongoing collateral costs for their selfishness?