By Teresa Palacios, Executive Director, Eastmont Community Center
Many of us take for granted the simple luxury of putting dinner on the table every night. But, millions of struggling Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. Far too many communities across this country have been hard hit by the hunger epidemic and now Washington is proposing to cut off one of the few lifelines that they have left.
Included in the House version of the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 1947),” known as the Farm Bill, is a proposal to cut more than $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over ten years. SNAP has served as a means for millions of Latinos to overcome poverty and it ensures access to sufficient food. About one in six Americans rely on the program to feed their families every night, but the proposed cuts would eliminate access to SNAP for approximately 2.5 million families.
I fear for members of my community. The Eastmont Community Center provides food for 50 families every day, in addition to our monthly Food Distribution Day, where more than a hundred families receive a couple of bags of groceries. These families can’t afford to lose $90 a month for food. The reality is that every dollar counts for low-income families. Five dollars makes all the difference. With five dollars, a mother can buy a bag of beans that will last her family a week.
I have lived all my life in East LA and have spent the past 19 years working at Eastmont. My work doesn’t end when I go home. I am rooted in the community; their needs are my needs. Our families simply cannot survive these cuts, especially during a down economy when people are out of jobs and forced to make do with what little money they have. It is already incredibly difficult to buy healthy foods on limited budgets. These cuts will only exacerbate the daily struggles that vulnerable communities are facing.
For the sake of millions of growing children in this country who desperately need healthy sustenance, I urge the House of Representatives to restore the cuts to SNAP and oppose measures that would harm the most vulnerable families. No child should have to go to bed hungry. Let’s do the right thing and make sure that we keep meals on the table for millions of Americans.