Today on the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge, I contacted my Representative and Senators asking them to produce a faithful, fair Farm Bill that protects SNAP from harmful cuts, improves access to food and nutrition, promotes conservation and rural economic development, and implements commodity and crop insurance reforms. Congress is currently negotiating a final Farm Bill in a conference committee.
I used this alert from the Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
This week, hundreds of Presbyterians, including our leaders Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, Moderator Neal Presa, and Executive Director Linda Valentine are taking the Food Stamp/SNAP Challenge. The Stated Clerk reflects on his trip to the grocery store in this article.
While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does offer those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding. For more resources, visit our Food Stamp Challenge page and the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Authorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) is included in the Farm Bill, on which Congress is working to negotiate a final deal right now.
Earlier in the year, serious threats were made to the funding of SNAP and on Nov. 1st, SNAP benefits were cut as a 2009 funding increase ran out. Far from there being room to cut SNAP, we are finding out this week that they are already inadequate to meet reasonable, nutritional needs. If anything, we need to invest more in Food Stamp benefits. SNAP is a designed as a counter-cyclical program that expands to meet needs when the economy is bad and people lose income and become eligible. When the jobs outlook and economy improve, it contracts as participants cycle off the program.
Members of Congress need to hear loud and wholehearted support for a program that catches people in their moments of need.
With the PC(USA)’s long-held convictions about food justice and fair food and farm policy, our interests in the Farm Bill, while very concerned with the nutrition programs, are also much broader that. In a joint statement with interfaith partners, the PC(USA) called on Congress to pass a Farm Bill that:
- Protects and strengthens programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States.
- Promotes investments and policies that strengthen rural communities and combat rural poverty.
- Provides a fair and effective farmer safety net that allows farmers in the U.S. and around the world to earn economically sustainable livelihoods.
- Strengthens policies and programs that promote conservation and protect creation from environmental degradation.
- Protects the dignity, health, and safety, of those responsible for working the land.
- Promotes research related to alternative, clean, and renewable forms of energy that do not negatively impact food prices or the environment.
- Safeguards and improves international food aid in ways that encourage local food security and improve the nutritional quality of food aid.
In light of our experience this week with the Food Stamp / SNAP Challenge, it is essential that Members of Congress hear from Presbyterians who are concerned about hunger and food justice, at home in the U.S. and around the world.
See you along the Trail.