Last month, Congress allowed massive cuts to the country’s food stamp program to go into effect, meaning more than 47 struggling Americans now find themselves with less money each month to spend on food.
The cuts, which total about $5 billion, were “the largest wholesale cut in the program since Congress passed the first Food Stamps Act in 1964.”
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The impact on recipients varies depending on household size (see details here), but eighty-three percent of food stamps go to households with children, seniors, and non-elderly people with disabilities; at least 900,000 veterans rely on SNAP. Overall, one in seven Americans are feeling the pinch.
And there could be more to come.
This week, the House and Senate will resume their “negotiations” over a five-year farm bill. The main point of contention, as before, is over how much to pare back the food-stamp program.
The Senate’s version would make relatively minor changes to the food-stamp program, saving $4.5 billion over 10 years.
House Republicans, however, are pushing for a bill that would cut $39 billion from the program over 10 years, largely by tightening restrictions on who could qualify for food stamps. These cuts would remove 3.8 million people from the SNAP program in 2014 and an average of nearly 3 million people each year over the coming decade.
Not only are these cuts incredibly harsh, they’re also based on faulty information. As it turns out, according to a new study by Hilary Hoynes, the use of food stamps can increase economic self-sufficiency when children grow up—exactly the opposite of what most Republicans would claim.
So What Can You Do?
Today, December 4 is a National Day of Action to protect SNAP. Call your representatives with these easy steps:
- Call toll-free to 1-888-398-8702
- A pre-recorded message will ask you to enter your zip code. Press 1 to be connected to your Representative.
- Let your Representative know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver this important message: Here’s a sample message: As a constituent, I urge you to support and protect SNAP in any Farm Bill or other legislative vehicle. Oppose SNAP cuts.
- Call back to repeat the process for your two senators – press “2” to be connected to your first senator and “3” to be connected to the other.
You can also send a holiday e-card today to both Congress and the President asking them not let anyone else go hungry this holiday season. Let others know you’ve taken action with the hashtag #WhoGoesHungry.
And finally, check out the newly launched SNAPworks.org. This comprehensive website provides everything you need to know about SNAP: ways to contact your members of Congress, videos, fact sheets, and more.
What do you think about the proposed cuts to SNAP benefits?
photo credit: MTSOfan/Creative Commons