SubscribeSubscribe to this blog's feed
294 posts categorized "Hunger and the U.S. Budget"
By David Beckmann
Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) have just introduced an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill that establishes improvements to our international food aid program.
Amendment 1079 increases the authorization for the Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) program from $40 million per year to $60 million per year from 2014 through 2018.
Bread for the World supported the LRP pilot program when it was originally authorized in the 2008 farm bill, and now we’re hoping that it will be expanded.
The pilot program demonstrated the benefit of purchasing food aid locally and regionally to meet the needs of those suffering from hunger. Purchasing food aid locally is cheaper, quicker, and supports farmers in developing countries. These are smart reforms and we should invest additional funds into this successful program.
The bipartisan Coon-Johanns amendment makes this program permanent and substantially increases the authorized funding level.
Your U.S. senators need to hear from you ASAP! The Senate is considering the amendment soon. Don't delay! Call 800-326-4941 today, and tell your U.S. senators,
Vote “yes” on the Coons-Johanns food aid reform amendment.
Thank you for using your voice to help ensure a place at the table for all God’s people.
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
By David Beckmann
The Senate will vote on a farm bill this week. SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and international food aid programs are once again on the chopping block.
Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill that takes some necessary steps towards food aid reform. Unfortunately, it also included a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP over the next ten years. If these cuts go into effect, at least 400,000 SNAP households will lose about $90 a month in benefits.
There's still time to act! your U.S. senators need to hear from you. Call them today at 1-800-326-4941 and urge them to take the following actions:
- Support Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to restore cuts to SNAP.
- Vote against any amendments that cut SNAP. This vital program keeps food on the table for millions of families even as poverty, unemployment, and underemployment remain high.
- Support efforts to make international food aid more efficient and targeted to the nutritional needs of women and children in the thousand-day window from pregnancy to age 2.
Cuts to SNAP and food aid will leave no place at the table for millions of our brothers and sisters. Don’t delay. Call your U.S. senators at 1-800-326-4941 today!
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
House Committee on Agriculture Passes Farm Bill with a $21 Billion Cut to SNAP: How the Members Voted
Bread for the World expressed outrage over the severe cuts to anti-hunger programs in a joint statement with Feeding America, United Way, and Catholic Relief Services.
The bill, which now goes to House leadership to be scheduled for a floor vote, would create hardship for families in the Unites States and have deadly consequences for families abroad. If enacted, it would:
- Remove 2 million SNAP recipients from the program
- Reduce SNAP benefits (by about $90 each month) for 850,000 households
- End free school meals for 210,000 children.
- Cut international food aid by $2.5 billion over 5 years—those cuts would include a 78 percent reduction in funding for improving the nutritional quality of food aid
During a very heated debate on the nutrition portion of the bill—a debate that included comments about churches taking primary responsibility for the care of hungry and poor people—Rep. Jim McGovern introduced an amendment to restore all cuts to the SNAP program. By a roll call vote, the amendment failed 17-27.
Bread for the World will continue to fight these cuts as the bill goes to the floor of the House. Domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP are the first line of defense against hunger and have proven effective in decreasing food insecurity during a weakened economy.
Members of the House Committee on Agriculture who voted to pass a bill with a $21 billion cut to the SNAP program. If your representative is on this list, we encourage you to call your member’s office or tag him or her in a tweet and let them know you are disappointed.
Members of the House Committee on Agriculture who voted to protect the programs for poor and hungry people that provide a place at the table for all. If your representative is on this list, we encourage you to call your member’s office or tag him or her in a tweet and thank them. (Asterisk indicates the member voted against the farm bill, but also voted against McGovern’s amendment).
Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee marked up the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, commonly referred to as the farm bill. The draft of the bill amended by the committee will now be scheduled for a full Senate vote. We thank Bread for the World members who took the time to urge their senators on the agriculture committee to ensure a place at the table for hungry and poor people by opposing cuts to SNAP and international food aid.
The Senate version of the farm bill cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $4.1 billion over five years, which would leave nearly 500,000 households without benefits. (In opening statements, Sens. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cowan (D-Mass.), Harkin (D-Iowa), and Brown (D-Ohio) spoke favorably of SNAP and nutrition programs).
Food aid fared better, with a proposed expansion of a program that creates flexibility in purchasing emergency food and includes provisions to improve the quality of food aid, particularly for mothers, children under five, and other target populations. International food aid provisions remain intact moving to floor debate and we will continue to ask senators to support those provisions.
The nutrition portion of the bill, under which SNAP is authorized, saw numerous amendments submitted for consideration, none of which made it through to the final version of the committee’s bill. Below is a summary of the amendments offered or mentioned in committee:
Today, the House Committee on Agriculture will consider a farm bill that would cut SNAP by more than $20 billion over ten years. While food pantries and churches do amazing work in feeding hungry people, their efforts cannot counteract that sort of blow to such a vital program. In 2011, federal nutrition programs delivered more than 23 times the amount of food assistance as did private charities.
Churches can't do it alone—the government must do its part.
Check out Bread for the World's fact sheet, "Churches and Hunger" to learn more about how SNAP cuts would tax churches, food banks, and private food charities beyond their limits. And if your representative sits on the House Committee on Agriculture, call 1-800-326-4941 today and tell him or her that cuts to SNAP are unacceptable.
The farm bill governs SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid. Both are critical anti-hunger programs, and both are at risk of cuts deeper than those proposed in last year’s farm bill process. The House farm bill was just released over the weekend, and it cuts SNAP by more than $20 billion over ten years; it cuts international food aid by $2.5 billion over five years; and it cuts international food aid quality programs by 78 percent. If enacted, these cuts would have devastating consequences.
Time is short: the committee will consider its proposal on Wednesday. Call 1-800-326-4941 and tell your representative that
- Cuts to SNAP are unacceptable. The proposed cuts would kick as many as 3 million people from the program, reduce benefits for hundreds of thousands of households, and deprive 280,000 kids of school meals. I urge you to vote against any cuts to SNAP and support efforts to restore any cuts.
- I urge you to oppose cuts to food aid and support efforts to make the program more efficient while also targeting the nutritional needs of women and children in the thousand-day window from pregnancy to age 2. International food aid reached 66 million people hit by famine, disasters, and other emergencies. These cuts will cost lives and hinder our ability to effectively reach millions of people in need.
Cuts to these programs will mean no food on the table for millions of our brothers and sisters.
This week is critical as the Senate Agriculture Committee finalizes its farm bill. Call your representative today at 1-800-326-4941 or send an email now.
Thank you for using your voice to help ensure a place at the table for all God's people.
Photo: U.S. Capitol building by flickr user smaedli.
House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas released his first draft of the farm bill into committee on Friday. His draft would cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $20 billion over 10 years. In this weakened economy, need has increased and participation is high, because the safety net has responded as it should, but Rep. Lucas (R-Okla.) would change that with this bill.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), a member of the agriculture committee, said the bill “would make hunger worse and not better.” Last week the congressman gave his tenth End Hunger Now floor speech in advance of the chairman’s draft proposal.
Both the House and Senate will mark up the farm bill this week in their respective committees; the Senate on Tuesday, May 14, and the House on Wednesday, May 15. After the chair offers the first draft, committee members have the opportunity to propose and vote on any amendments, or changes, to the bill. Once a final version is voted out of committee, leadership then adds it to the schedule for a floor vote. Both House and Senate leadership have indicated they would like a farm bill on the summer agenda.
“We are supposed to help people, not hurt people,” said McGovern in his speech.” But if this farm bill goes forward with a $20 billion cut in SNAP, we will be hurting people— millions and millions of people in this country.”
Any cuts to SNAP would prove devastating for vulnerable Americans. SNAP participants are already facing a reduction in benefits—on Nov. 1, a temporary program boost that was included in the 2009 stimulus package will expire. Even more alarming: a recent Institute of Medicine study concluded that the way in which the benefit level is calculated for SNAP is inadequate for a healthy diet. Inadequate as existing levels are, just this expiration will reduce the average benefit to about $1.40 per person per meal, reports the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. Cutting the program by $20 billion over 10 years would reduce the benefit even further and increase food insecurity even more.
“Outraged” was a term McGovern used repeatedly in his speech. He responded to those who believe cuts would reduce participation. “SNAP isn’t a get-rich scheme,” he said. “People use SNAP to put food on their tables during difficult times. McGovern noted that many people who currently qualify for SNAP do work, but said “[t]he way to reduce the number of people on SNAP is by creating jobs—by helping to get this economy going again.”
In the Senate, the agriculture committee chairwoman’s farm bill draft included a $4.1 billion cut to the SNAP program, which would also create hardship for millions of families. We continue to ask Bread for the World members to call their senators and tell them to ask for a final version with no cuts.
Today, Bread for the World will launch a targeted action alert to our members who have representatives on the committee. During this short window of opportunity, we must get in as many calls as possible to the 44 members who sit on the House agriculture committee. As their constituents, we can demand a final draft that protects programs for hungry people. From Rep. Schrader in Oregon to Rep. Collins in New York, committee members across this nation must hear that any farm bill must help to end hunger now.
Photo: Alex Morris feeds her son, André, in their Bend, Ore., home. Alex depends on SNAP, WIC and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system. (Brad Horn)
The American Jewish World Service, Bread for the World, CARE, The Modernizing Assistance Network, Oxfam America and Save the Children released the following statement today in advance of the Senate and House committee mark-ups of the 2013 Farm Bill:
“With more than 870 million people suffering from hunger worldwide and Congress looking to ensure wise use of taxpayer funds at home, the 2013 Farm Bill represents a crucial opportunity to make our international food aid programs both more efficient and more cost-effective.
Unfortunately, the current Senate draft Farm Bill, due to be marked up next week, includes the same incremental steps toward reform as last year, but fails to address the fundamental changes that are so badly needed. We urge Senate leaders to work with the Administration to achieve stronger reforms in food aid programs so that American tax dollars can go farther and American compassion can reach more people in need. On the House side, we remain disappointed that the House Agriculture Committee draft once again fails to incorporate any reforms.
In his 2014 budget request, President Obama proposed common sense reforms that would feed millions more people and save lives by delivering aid faster with no additional cost to the taxpayer. This proposal sets an important precedent in building a more modern food aid program. Proposed reforms include allowing for greater flexibility in how the U.S. delivers food to hungry people overseas and ending the inefficient method of having aid groups sell food aid overseas to fund development programs, a practice known as “monetization.” This increased flexibility is a part of a package that would allow food aid to go farther, feeding 2-4 million additional people. These reforms have been greeted with interest by members on both sides of the aisle.
While we are supporting the Administration’s request that the FY 14 Appropriations bills be the vehicle for food aid reform, we recognize that there are several potential paths forward for Congress to achieve these much needed improvements to our international food aid program, and we are fully committed to working with leaders in Congress, including members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, to get it done this year."Photo: Somali woman and a malnourished child exit from the medical tent after the child receives emergency medical treatment from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an active regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations. Somalia is the country worst affected by a severe drought that has ravaged large swaths of the Horn of Africa, leaving an estimated 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. (UN Photo/Stuart Price)
You might not know it by looking at me now, but I was two months premature when I was born, barely weighing three pounds. My birth and the weeks that followed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit must have been a harrowing time for my parents, especially my mom. It took some time, but I eventually grew strong, gained weight, and became a healthy child—and eventually a healthy adult. One of the things I credit to my recovery was the healthy food I received both before and after I was born. My parents thankfully had the resources to make sure I had all the nutrition I needed, yet because of the sequester’s 5.3 percent cut to the WIC program, more than 600,000 moms and babies are going to find those resources harder to come by.
I recently got to sit down with some of the staff at the “Moms-2-Be” program in Columbus, Ohio. Moms-2-Be (M2B) is a unique program designed to help pregnant women who live in Weinland Park /near Eastside of Columbus have healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and babies.
The Weinland Park neighborhood has the highest density of poverty in all of Franklin County and, until recently, an alarmingly high infant mortality rate. For the moms who reside in the neighborhood, WIC is one the best resources they have to help their babies. The sequester means that more than 18,000 Ohio moms like the ones in Moms-2-Be in Weinland Park are going to have a harder time beating the odds and giving their babies what they need to grow and develop. Staff told stories of the struggles moms will go through to make ends meet and the tough choices they will have to make to be sure their children are fed. Sometimes that means cutting formula with water to make it last or having to graduate their babies to solid food long before they are ready.
With Mother’s Day around the corner, take a moment to reflect on everything that moms do to fight for their children. This Mother’s Day, tell Congress to stand up for mothers and children. Email Congress right now and tell your senators and representative to stop these cuts and instead enact a balanced, responsible budget deal that protects our mothers, our children, and our economy. Mothers protect us. Make sure Congress protects them.
Jon Gromek is regional organizer, central hub states, at Bread for the World.
Photo: Jon Gromek, as a newborn, being held by his mother, Angie Vrettos-Gromek. (Photo courtesy of Jon Gromek)
By Alice Walker Duff
How will you honor your mother this Mother’s Day? What will you do to let your mom, grandmas, aunties, and mentors know that you learned their lessons of love and care for others?
This Mother's Day, honor your mom, and all the amazing women in your life, by telling Congress to stand up for mothers. Congress can act quickly and decisively—its members recently fixed flight delays caused by sequestration cuts. But nutrition and other programs that help moms in the United States and around the world are still on the chopping block.
There’s only one way to fix this and protect mothers and children from harmful cuts!
Email Congress right now and tell your senators and representative to stop these cuts and instead enact a balanced, responsible budget deal that protects our mothers, our children, and our economy. As a thank you, we will send a free e-card to any of the women in your life. We will let them know that you honor them by standing with mothers everywhere!
Mothers protect us. Make sure Congress protects them! Email Congress now and celebrate Mother's Day in a way that makes a difference. Together, we can make sure that mothers and children in the United States and around the world have the nutrition they need to thrive.
Thank you for joining me in standing with mothers everywhere.Alice Walker-Duff is Bread for the World's managing director.