Food assistance for millions of Americans can wait.
That was the message the House of Representatives sent yesterday when it voted to pass the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act” (H.R. 2642), better known as the “Farm Bill” without the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provision.
Historically, the Farm Bill has relied on a coalition of urban and rural members to pass a measure with both agriculture-related commodity pricing provisions and nutrition components. Yesterday’s vote was a radical departure from this traditional policy alliance.
The vote to “split” the bill follows a failed attempt in the House last month to drastically cut this critical food assistance program. Given the uncertainty of how Congress will move forward to address SNAP, this latest move to separate a nutrition authorization from the overall farm bill is deeply troubling.
“Latino children make up about two-fifths of all children living with hunger in this nation; reductions in funding for SNAP will have very direct and damaging impact on the health of our kids and communities,” said NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía in a statement. “We should be working toward ending hunger in this nation, not exacerbating the problem. Policies that aim to take food off of the tables of millions of struggling families are misguided and heartless.”
As Congress considers how to reconcile two very different visions of SNAP, they should keep in mind the countless Americans who depend on this assistance as a critical anti-poverty measure. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans, of which 17 percent are Latino, rely on SNAP to feed their families. For many of these individuals, SNAP is vital in preventing them from falling into poverty. Indeed, SNAP is largely credited as one of the most successful programs we as a country have ever implemented to bolster those facing short-term periods of economic hardship. American children and families need Congress to find a path forward to adequately fund an already beleaguered program. This ought to be a top priority.
“Every dollar counts for struggling families,” said Murguía. “Moving forward, we urge Congress to prioritize the nutrition and health of our children and our communities, and to protect critical funding for SNAP.”