EPPN Alert: Critical Nutrition Programs Need Your Help Now

November 17, 2013

You are in a position to accomplish powerful advocacy for critical nutrition programs right now. The Farm Bill, an omnibus bill that dictates funding for food, farm, and nutrition programs over the next five years, is currently being conferenced by a committee of senators and representatives. This means that over the next few weeks, these members of Congress will work out the differences between two farm bills passed separately by the House and the Senate respectively. 

One of the greatest distinctions between these two bills is the funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. The Senate proposes $4.1 billion in cuts over ten years, while the House proposes $39 billion in cuts over ten years. While any level of cuts would be harmful to SNAP beneficiaries, the larger cuts would be catastrophic.

SNAP already took a significant cut when the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to benefits terminated. A family of three has lost $29 per month in benefits, and will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014. We need to urge Congress to be as conservative as possible with their reductions to the program that affects the lives of individuals – particularly children – across our country.

Regardless of whether your members of Congress were nominated to serve on the Farm Bill conference committee, they will play a crucial role in approving the level of cuts that the committee recommends. The good news is that because members of Congress strive to represent their constituents, your opinion can influence their ultimate decision. All you have to do is raise your voice by calling your senators and representative and urging them to protect the SNAP program and the families who depend upon it for their daily meals.

Call the capitol switchboard at 1-800-270-0309 and ask for your member of Congress. Tell the person answering the phone that you support the highest possible funding for the critical SNAP program. You could also share some of these important impacts of the program:

  • Household impacts
    • A $39 billion cut to SNAP could leave up to 3.8 million people in 2014 and 3 million people per year over the next decade without vital food assistance, pulling the safety net out from beneath struggling families.
    • Seventy-six percent of SNAP recipients are children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, and a cut of $39 billion will doubtless harm these individuals who are most in need.
  • Economy impacts
  • Each $1 billion cut from SNAP eliminates 13,718 jobs; thus the House’s proposed bill would eliminate a total of 535,002 jobs nationally.
  • Job losses will have the greatest impact on youth workers, as this age group accounts for a disproportionate share of employees in food-related industries (nearly one-third of grocery employees are under 25, compared to just 14 percent of workers in all industries).
  • This cut will also require churches and charities to nearly double their food aid for the next ten years to compensate for the loss in SNAP funding, a monumental effort that these community centers are unprepared to implement.

We urge you to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable families, particularly the children, the elderly, and the disabled, who depend upon SNAP to survive.