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Put the SNAP Back into the Farm Bill

Rev. John L. McCullough  |  July 19, 2013

Right now, 45 million people in the United States are hungry.  In fact, we can count in weeks the amount of time before even more of our nation’s most vulnerable people – seniors, children, the working poor – face the prospect of going to bed hungry.

I have a hard time getting my head around this, because it just doesn’t make sense. Politicians are constantly making stump speeches about the U.S. being the most advanced, the most powerful, and the most affluent country in the history of the world. They say, we are the envy of the world; but just last week, the majority in the House of Representatives made a move that is best characterized as simple-minded, short-sighted and mean. Against the backdrop of partisanship that seemingly has become standard operating procedure in the chambers of Congress, on a party line vote the Republican majority pushed through a farm bill that does not include the food stamp program. Funding for food stamps first started in 1939, and improvements to this program have been implemented over the past seventy-four years. This recent action, however, does not suggest improvements, but rather the demise of public services upon which so many people necessarily depend.

Over the protests of Democrats, the House-farm bill lavishes nearly $200 billion in subsidies on farmers over the next decade, without including even a penny in food assistance for the more than 45 million children, seniors and working poor people who depend on it. The intent is to remove SNAP from the farm bill and consider the nutritional assistance program as a separate piece of legislation, vulnerable to massive funding cuts.  The result would be to assure continued subsidies for farmers while figuratively snatching food from the tables of poor people.

CWS has decided that it must step up its advocacy in response to persistent food insecurity in North America. This farm bill is an example of why this is so urgent. Our task now is to stop compounding the violence of hunger that already exists in the United States.

In this vast country of abundant resources there is enough for all. Lawmakers discredit us all when they approve legislation that gives short shrift to the needs of people struggling to overcome poverty and attempt to clean it up by invoking the term “fiscal conservatism.”

The tax dollars that fund these programs – subsidies for farmers and food assistance for struggling families--come from all of our pockets. We have every right to expect that public dollars will be expended in a manner which defines Americans as a caring, compassionate nation – especially for those least able to care for themselves. The simple truth is that giving poor people access to nutritional food makes good economic sense; and children who are well fed learn better, stay healthier, and achieve more.

On September 30 millions of people who depend on a few hundred dollars a month of food stamp assistance to buy groceries will be left with empty pockets, empty pantries and empty stomachs. Now is the time to tell legislators to snap out of their political partisanship, and put the SNAP back into the farm bill.

Rev. John L. McCullough is president and CEO of CWS

Image information source: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err141.aspx#.Ueltu43VCSp
Tag: Hunger and Malnutrition

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Submitted by Lisa Crum on Jul 25, 4:48 PM CDT
As one of the low income homeless in America. I understand how important the SNAP program is. My kids would have gone to bed hungry so many nights without this wonderful help. To see it gone or reduced would be tragic to millions of people throughout the US. It seems congress is more worried about there own stomachs instead of those that really need help.
Submitted by Mary Stewart on Jul 23, 2:56 PM CDT
Some of these greedy old plutocrats claim to be Christian, and yet they vote against food for those in need. That makes other people think Christians are greedy and mean.
Submitted by Russ Melby on Jul 23, 1:59 PM CDT
John, this is a great piece! I hope it gets wide distribution! Thank you!! Russ
Submitted by MaryAlice Brake on Jul 23, 1:24 PM CDT
I agree very much with Rev. McCullough "that giving poor people access to nutritional food makes good economic sense; and children who are well fed learn better, stay healthier, and achieve more." Don't know if SNAP includes food at school or the WIC program, but these are important also. If the children don't get healthy food, we'll pay for it later because the children as adults will not be able to get a job and will be at our emergency rooms more often.
Submitted by Edward Schreiber on Jul 23, 1:04 PM CDT
The church I serve operates a hot meal program and food pantry for those in need. We also have large food distributions two or three times a month with produce and other items we get from regional food banks. We see firsthand what the needs in our community are. There are people at risk of becoming homeless because they can't afford to pay their rent and they can't find jobs that enable them to sustain themselves. Reducing food-assistance for needy families with children being a large percentage of those under the poverty line is unconscionable.
Submitted by David Ruesink on Jul 23, 12:21 PM CDT
For years I have been an advocate of separating the actual farm bill from the SNAP bill. It has never made any sense to me to have a very expensive farm bill with most of that money going to SNAP. I think legislators are blind sided when the two are combined. I have heard it was necessary to combine them in order to get urban votes for the farm program. The two programs should each be able to stand on their own merit. I do agree that the farm bill needs to be overhauled and some of the subsidies need to be changed or removed. I speak as a person who grew up on a general family farm of 160 acres in southern Michigan. I saw the benefits and abuses of the farm bill after WW 2. I continued to see the benefits and abuses in recent years. I am just interested in seeing that we are able to produce enough food for us all without causing farmers to go broke. In my years of experience, I notice that Mother Nature does more to affect our production and prices received than the government in all of its wisdom.
Submitted by Robert Murphy on Jul 23, 11:39 AM CDT
How can churches be helpful? Should we develop community activities in support of CWS? Please let me know.
Submitted by Paul Hoffman on Jul 19, 8:56 PM CDT
Lets get this done!
Submitted by pamela S. Smith on Jul 19, 7:04 PM CDT
It is shameful that under these difficult economictimes our elected leaders would consider reducing food-assistance for struggling American families.God is wathching and so are thevoters.

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