Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

253 posts categorized "SNAP"

Coming Home After Prison

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A market-style food pantry at a Fredericksburg, Va. church that caters to everyone, including the formerly incarcerated. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Alex T. Wheelwright

The United States is home to an astonishing 2.3 million prisoners, the vast majority of whom are not serving life sentences. What happens when they come home?

I recently sat down with Martin Torres, who served four years in a Bexar County, Texas, prison on a check-forging charge. His story helped me understand how incarceration affects families; Torres is the father of two daughters ages 7 and 5.  But Torres' story also is a testament to the importance of providing those formally incarcerated with tools, such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), that help them get back on their feet.

For Torres, coming home was the start of a new struggle. During his incarceration, his two daughters had moved in with their mother, who struggles with drug addiction and mental health issues. Torres feared for their safety.

“She burned me with cigarettes, hit me with frying pans, gave me a black eye,” Torres said. “But I have this record, so it took me years to get legal custody of my daughters.”

Torres is not mad at the system, which gave him $50 and a prison I.D. when he was released in 2008. He just thinks it could be improved.

Carol Lockett of Chrysalis Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, agrees. “There are multiple issues for people coming out,” she said. Chrysalis Ministries is an interfaith organization that provides religious and social services to those who were formally incarcerated in any detention or treatment facility in the San Antonio region.

Employment, safe and suitable housing, mental health issues that have not been addressed, and unemployment are some of the issues Lockett said become barriers to reestablishing one's life after incarceration. Torres got hired three times at various jobs before his background check revealed his prison record and he was asked to leave. After taking some life skills classes at Chrysalis Ministries, they hired him as a case manager in 2009.

“My ministry is to help people when they get out,” he said. “I cherish my position as a father and a mentor – some of the same mentalities go into both fields. Someone gets out of prison, we need to get them a job, and they should be eligible for assistance, especially if they have kids.”

Texas is one of nine states that have not modified a federal law banning drug felons from receiving SNAP and TANF benefits – a remnant of the war on drugs. Because Torres' conviction - forging checks to support his addiction – was not technically a felony drug conviction, he is able to receive modest monthly assistance. Were Torres to have a felony drug conviction on his record, that assistance would vanish in Texas – for life.

“It really is unfair – it’s unfair to the children,” he pointed out. “My children should not have to suffer for what I’ve done – they shouldn’t pay for what daddy did in the past.”

In his role as case manager, Torres helps fellow returning citizens with job readiness, rental assistance, acquiring identification, and financial planning. He and his daughters lead a hectic but happy life. Many of the men in his program, due to the nature of their conviction, come back to a city with no job prospects, inconsistent housing, and no access to SNAP or TANF.

It is no wonder that only a third of returning citizens manage to avoid arrest during their first decade out. Of those who get help from Chrysalis Ministries, 85 percent avoid recidivism. Torres is proud to be a part of that latter group. He gets to help others coming behind him, and his daughters get their father.

Congress is negotiating legislation right now that would lift the lifetime ban on SNAP and TANF for individuals with felony drug convictions. Tell your members of Congress that it is time to lift the ban. It is time to do the right thing.

To learn more about the connections between incarceration and hunger read Bread’s fact sheet here.

Alex T. Wheelwright is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

'Give the Gift of a Second Chance'

By Eric Mitchell

This Sunday, we will honor fathers and father figures in our lives. They support and care for us and we should do the same for them. Please take a moment to email your member of Congress. Ask them to support fathers by lifting the ban on SNAP (formerly food stamps) and TANF (welfare) for those with felony drug convictions. _MG_0689

Nate Gordon, a young father in Ohio, was striving to provide for his family after serving a prison sentence for passing bad checks. He looked high and low for a job for three years, but even temp agencies wouldn't accept him.

Ohio had lifted the ban on SNAP benefits for those convicted of a felony in order to reduce recidivism, so Gordon was able to receive SNAP benefits while he was job hunting, which helped him put food on the table.

But a federal ban on SNAP and TANF still exists for people with felony drug convictions. Lifting the ban would remove a major barrier for people looking for a second chance.

Tell Congress to lift the ban that prevents people with felony drug convictions from receiving the support they need to help their families!

Access to these safety net programs is critical in helping returning citizens get back on their feet as they re-enter their communities. They enable fathers to put food on the table and provide for themselves and their children. Banning SNAP and TANF for dads with a felony drug conviction doesn’t make sense.

ACT NOW: Tell your members of Congress to pass criminal justice reform by sending them a Father's Day card urging them to support dads who, in turn, support their families. 

We shouldn’t deny dads access to the tools and opportunities that effectively help millions of families escape poverty and find economic stability. This Father’s Day, give the gift of a second chance.

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Nate Gordon spending quality time with his daughter. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

Tell Congress to Protect Child Nutrition Programs

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Federal nutrition programs for children are a critical part of the fight against hunger. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Eric Mitchell

In March, we asked you to tell Congress to protect SNAP and other anti-hunger programs from cuts in the budget. You delivered. Now, we're hitting the next stage in these budget battles, and we need your voice again.

Will you take two minutes to call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators and tell Congress to fully fund programs that help children at risk of hunger in the U.S. and around the world?

Last month, Congress passed a budget blueprint that, if fully enacted, would increase hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Now, Congress is trying to figure out how to implement it. 

At this very moment, members of the appropriations committees are deciding how much to fund each federal program, and sequestration is making their jobs very hard. Automatic sequestration cuts lower the overall spending limits. This means there is less money to fund things like education and scientific research, let alone programs that effectively help people struggling to move out of poverty, such as foreign assistance and nutrition assistance for infants and low-income mothers. 

Our federal budget is an outline of the priorities of this country. Our children's health and nutrition must be a priority.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators today. Urge Congress to oppose cuts to programs like WIC and international poverty-focused development assistance. Tell Congress to address the additional sequestration cuts with a more balanced and responsible plan. Congress should be investing in our children, not undermining their food security. 

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Teachers: When Stomachs are Empty, We Can't Fill Minds

By Robin Stephenson

Teachers have a problem with poverty. According to a survey of our nation’s top teachers, poverty – ranking just below family stress – is a barrier to classroom success.

The survey, conducted by Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., asked 56 Teachers of the Year about the issues that affect public education. Teachers stated that funding anti-poverty initiatives would be their top priority.

The United States ranks near the bottom on measures of child poverty in the developed world, while at the same time continuing to rank among the wealthiest nations. More than 16 million children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level ($23,550 a year for a family of four). The manifestation of poverty is often perceived to be an individual predicament, but poverty is a social problem that must be addressed on a national level.

16348200855_cd67e7b41b_kIt is no surprise that teachers find poverty – a solvable problem – an impediment to classroom success. Studies show that nutrition programs not only improve a child's diet and academic performance, but they also improve behavior – a prized commodity in any classroom.

But for the educator, the fruits of their labor are harvested long after the child leaves the classroom.

“If you don’t fund children for their well-being early on, you’re going to pay for it later on when they graduate from school – or don’t graduate from school,” Mickey Komins, principal of Anne Frank Elementary in Philadelphia, Pa., told Bread for the World.

In 2012, the safety net moved 48 million people above the poverty line – including 12 million children.  At Bread, we are advocating for better child nutrition programs as part of our 2015 Offering of Letters campaign, because children’s health and well-being is correlated with future success. When children have access to anti-hunger programs early on, studies show they are more successful later in life.

We can help teachers focus on educating our future leaders by advocating that the federal government invest in programs that help children.  Members of Congress are debating the future of child nutrition programs, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and deciding funding levels as they go through the budget process.

Instead of a focus on cuts, lawmakers must be urged to consider the future of the nation’s children. These anti-hunger programs must be strengthened if we want to get poverty out of the classroom for good.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Hunger: 'Congress Doesn't Get it'

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By Alyssa Casey

I love the work I do as a Bread staffer in Washington, D.C., but my roots will always be in northern Illinois. I grew up in Antioch, Ill., a small town where farmlands and suburban neighborhoods merge into one. Antioch is also where I first encountered hunger through service work at my church and local food pantry.

During a visit home to Antioch a few weeks ago, I accompanied my mother one night to a food pantry at Open Arms Mission. I saw many faces of hunger walk through the door. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to talk with Marytherese Ambacher, the director of Open Arms Mission. She confirmed what I saw firsthand- that there is no one face of hunger.

“We see a lot of men in their 50s and 60s, a lot of tradespeople,” she explained. Many tradespeople who work seasonal jobs get laid off during the slow months. While some are able to find another temporary job to fill the gap, others turn to the local food pantry while they continue their job search.

When I asked about SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Ambacher said many of the people coming to the food pantry receive SNAP, but the benefits they receive aren’t enough to get their family through the month. “Most people don’t come every week,” but come to fill the gap when their SNAP benefits run out. 

Open Arms allows clients to come in once per week, and in one visit they receive up to two days’ worth of food based on family size. The majority of these individuals and families rely on SNAP in addition to the food pantry. “That’s what Congress doesn’t get. They think we can feed these people but we only give them 2 days’ worth of food a week,” Ambacher said.

At Bread for the World, we know that while these churches and charities are immensely important, federal programs provide nearly 20 times the amount of food assistance as private sources.

Open Arms also coordinates with local schools to close the hunger gap during weekends and summers. The weekend backpack program provides a backpack with food on Fridays for some of the children who receive free- and reduced-price lunch during the week.

“We ran a summer camp for two years,” Ambacher said, “but we had more volunteers than we had kids.” Most summer feeding programs across the country require students to come to a specific site and finish the meal on site. Parents in Northern Lake County, which includes suburban and rural communities, find it difficult to get their children to the site because they are at work during the day.

Feeding students during the summer can be difficult. For every seven children who receive free- or reduced-price lunch, only one also receives food assistance during summer months. That’s why Bread for the World is campaigning this year to close this gap and expand access to summer meals for children at risk of hunger.

Private charities like Open Arms are invaluable partners in the fight against hunger, but they can’t do it alone. Strengthening federal nutrition programs like SNAP and school and summer meals would be a huge step toward ending hunger in the United States.

Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

Alyssa Casey is a government relations coordinator at Bread for the World.

 

SNAP Safe For Now, But Automatic Cuts Loom in Budget

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The joint budget resolution for the 2016 fiscal year includes deep cuts to anti-hunger programs.  (Screen shot from A Place at the Table, courtesy of Participant Media)

By Robin Stephenson

The House and Senate are close to finalizing a deal for the overall parameters of the 2016 fiscal year budget. The joint budget resolution, with deep cuts to anti-hunger programs, could be ratified by votes in the House and Senate this week.

“It’s a budget that fails to prioritize the most vulnerable, but there is a silver lining:  Thanks to our advocates, the joint resolution does not include reconciliation instructions to the agriculture committees,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.

In the final compromise, instructions were not included that would have put SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) directly on the chopping block.

“This is good news,” said Kegan. “It postpones our fight to protect SNAP. SNAP is always vulnerable and continues to have a target on its back, but this gives us some breathing room.” On the other hand, reconciliation instructions still leave Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, and the child tax credit potentially at risk.

However, given that 69 percent of the cuts put low-income people at risk, Kegan warns there is still much work to do. “The decisions of what programs get funded and what programs get cut is part of a complex process. There will be a few key opportunities and threats over the next five months in particular,” she said.

A budget resolution sets the top-line numbers for annually appropriated programs – the overall size of the pie that is then sliced up in what is called the appropriation process. Those slices fund individual programs administered through the federal government. Because the budget was balanced by cuts exclusively and not through revenue, the slices are thin. Making matter worse, unless Congress acts, the slices will shrink even more because of a process called sequestration.

Sequestration was offered as a stick during 2011 budget negotiations. In 2011, negotiators were given a choice: They could decide where to enact entitlement cuts and raise revenue or accept additional cuts that shrink the annual appropriations budget. The group of lawmakers, dubbed the Super Committee, failed to compromise. That result triggered the draconian policy to shackle spending even more.  

Since then, Congress and the Obama administration enacted moderate and temporary measures that eased the impact of the cuts.  Lawmakers must enact measures soon that would again ease cuts that affect anti-hunger programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The domestic nutrition program, which is already stretched to meet unprecedented need, provides funding for food banks to purchase nutritious foods and to help transport and deliver that food to Americans in need.

“Sequestration is unacceptable and unsustainable. It is a decision that can be changed, if,” Kegan stressed, “Congress makes it a priority. But they have to hear from their constituents.”

There are several programs under the jurisdiction of the agricultural committee that are critical in our efforts to end hunger, but would be subject to a sequestration squeeze. The WIC program supports nutrition for children from low-income families so they grow healthy but would lose vital funding if the automatic cuts are not removed. The dollars that fund food aid and increase our ability to buy food closer to disasters like Nepal would be in jeopardy if sequestration goes into effect.  And the poverty-assistance programs like low-income housing assistance and Head Start would also be at risk.

Bread members are urged to tell their members of Congress to enact measures that will remove sequestration from the budget and develop a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Churches and Charities are Key Partners, But Can't Fight Hunger Alone

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Federal nutrition programs are finding ways to connect the people who rely on them with a healthy selection of foods. Jim Stipe for Bread for the World.

By Alyssa Casey

“Many people call SNAP a safety net, but for me it was like a trampoline – bouncing my family back into work and a brighter future,” said Keleigh Green-Patton, a working mother and former SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) recipient, who recently testified on Capitol Hill.

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives held two separate hearings, both on critical anti-hunger programs. The House Agriculture Committee focused on the relationship between SNAP and the charitable sector, while the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on serving students and families through child nutrition programs.

During the SNAP hearing, Green-Patton told her story of turning to SNAP after losing her job, participating in a job-training program through the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and then finding employment and moving off SNAP. While the three-month training program was facilitated by the food depository, the program was unpaid, and so to keep food on her family’s table, Green-Patton turned to SNAP.

In addition to Green-Patton, expert witnesses from food banks and anti-hunger programs emphasized the critical role of SNAP, even in the midst of the innovative work being done by private charitable organizations. “We are proud of our daily impact on hunger, but it pales in comparison to the tremendous job done by federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, WIC, CACFP, School Lunch and Breakfast and Summer Meals,” said Kate Maehr, chief executive officer of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) echoed this theme by citing Bread for the World’s research on charities and hunger. “I think the message that’s loud and clear is that churches and charities cannot do it on their own. To put it in perspective, I have a fact sheet here from Bread for the World… it says federal assistance for food and nutrition programs [in 2013] was at about $102 billion. Assistance from churches and charities was at $5.2 billion.”

It is encouraging to see members of Congress acknowledge the hard work of charitable organizations in feeding hungry people. But with federal nutrition programs – including SNAP, school meals, and WIC – providing 19 times more food assistance than private charities, these hearings couldn’t have been timelier. Members of Congress in the Education and Workforce Committee also heard from a panel of witnesses who spoke to the effectiveness of and need for strong child nutrition programs.

Charitable organizations, including food banks and pantries, churches, and faith organizations, are critical partners in the fight against hunger because they are on the ground in so many local communities. Yet many of these organizations rely largely on donations, work with extremely limited resources, and their presence varies by region. They cannot provide the certainty and consistency of SNAP or child nutrition programs.

Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

Alyssa Casey is a government relations coordinator at Bread for the World.

Update on 2015 Offering of Letters Legislation

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By Bread Staff

Bread for the World's 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children focuses on our federal government's child nutrition programs. The heaviest activity in Congress on this issue is expected later in the year when a bill setting funding and policy for the major child nutrition programs is introduced.

But some other legislative activity is happening. Following is an update on some of it:

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reintroduced the Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613) on Feb. 27. The bill aims to improve the summer meal programs and help give more children access to meals and programs during the summer months. The bill specifically would:

  • Lower the area eligibility threshold to allow communities to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site qualifies if 50 percent or more of children in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals as defined by school or census data. The current threshold prevents many communities with significant numbers of low-income children, but not a high enough concentration of poverty, from participating. In addition, the 50 percent threshold is inconsistent with federally funded summer programs, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and Title I, which have 40 percent thresholds. These important education programs should all be able to provide summer meals. 15725784024_a8738dc2e9_o
  • Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. Currently, sponsors must apply to and operate the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) separately in order to feed children — often the same children — after school and during the summer. This has created duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
  • Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches to providing meals and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to children's participation in summer programs. These grants will increase low-income children's access to summer meals in rural and other under-served areas.
  • Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and operate all day, but most sites are able to serve only two meals. This leaves children without enough nutrition to get through the day or forces sites to use program dollars for food.

Bread for the World has endorsed this bill and supports this and other efforts to strengthen and improve summer nutrition programs.

The other primary bill to improve summer meals, which was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in the previous Congress — the Summer EBT bill — has not been reintroduced yet in this Congress.

Keep those letters coming! Bread's office in Washington, D.C., has received a few reports from congregations elsewhere in the country about the Offering of Letters that they have held. Many more congregations and faith communities have letter-writing events planned for this year. Bread encourages you to keep your letters coming!

Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

Photo: Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

Child Nutrition Legislation Kicks Off With a Hearing on Wednesday

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SOCIAL SHARE: Click on the image above to open in a new window, then right click and save it. Tweet it or put it on your Facebook wall and tag your member of Congress. Tell him/her to #FeedOurChildren and pass a child nutrition bill that closes the hunger gap.

By Robin Stephenson

The moment has arrived! 

The first step towards passing a child nutrition bill that can end the hunger gap is here. The House will hold its first hearing titled “Serving Students and Families through Child Nutrition Programs” this Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT. You can watch the hearing via a live webcast.

“This really kicks off the moment when our Offering of Letters Campaign starts moving in Congress,” said Christine Meléndez Ashley, Bread for the World’s policy expert on child nutrition. 

Every five years, Congress must craft a bill that sets the policy for child nutrition programs, which includes those for school meals, summer feeding, and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) nutrition program. Many of you have already written letters as part of the 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children, letting Congress know their constituents at home care.

Over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. School lunch or breakfast is sometimes the only nutritious meal children from low-income families receive. It is easier for a nourished child to pay attention in class and learn more quickly. A good education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty later in life.

As we tune into the hearing tomorrow, we look for signs the House Education and Workforce Committee – the committee that will write the first draft of legislation – has the facts and is making ending hunger its target.

“This is the committee’s first chance to hear from experts on child nutrition programs,” Meléndez Ashley said. “The hearing will not only give us insight into the future of programs that keep hunger at bay for millions of kids, but also signal what members are thinking about in terms of child nutrition policy priorities.”

For example, summer is the hungriest time for kids. Pilot programs have shown that we can improve access to nutrition during the summer months. This committee has the opportunity to build on those programs and reach more children.

Another area that Bread will watch closely is whether committee members are viewing child hunger with a wider lens.

Parents who utilize child nutrition programs usually have a job, but low-income paychecks are not stretching to the dinner table - let alone the lunch counter. The last time Congress passed a child nutrition bill, they cut SNAP (formerly food stamps), a program that helps put food on the dinner table. When nearly half of SNAP recipients are children, cutting benefits makes no sense if ending hunger is the priority.

The budget proposals passed by both the Senate and House last month repeat a disturbing trend in Congress to balance the budget by cutting anti-hunger programs, especially SNAP. Tomorrow the House Agriculture Committee will continue their series of hearings reviewing the food stamp program in what some fear is a veiled attempt to cut even more. It's time for a new trend: making ending hunger a priority.

Tell Congress to act for kids. Don’t let the moment slip us by.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Building the 2016 Federal Budget: Round 1

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Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.


By Bread Staff

Before Congress left for its spring break, the House and Senate debated and passed their budget resolutions. The House resolution passed 228-199. The Senate resolution passed 52-46. When members of Congress return to Washington, the two chambers will iron out the differences and pass a budget for fiscal year 2016.

Every year, Bread for the World follows the federal budget process to ensure Congress adequately funds programs that provide hope and opportunity to people struggling with hunger and poverty.

This year, Bread is escalating its work on the budget. Unlike the past few years, one party now controls both the House and the Senate. This makes it significantly easier for Congress to cut anti-hunger programs.

Details of the Budget Proposals

Both the House and Senate sought to balance the budget within the next 10 years. They did so without raising taxes, touching Social Security, making any big changes to Medicare within the next decade, or cutting the defense budget. They actually increased funding for defense in some cases. So where did the trillions of dollars in cuts come from? Sixty-nine percent of the cuts in both budgets would be placed on the backs of low-income people.

In some cases, the budgets were clear about their vision for how to accomplish those savings. The House budget cut $140 billion from SNAP (formerly called food stamps). The Senate budget proposed cutting Medicaid by $400 billion. Both budgets also allowed the 2009 improvements to the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit to expire. Those improvements have kept 16 million people from falling into or deeper into poverty.

Both budgets continued the additional cuts of sequestration, the automatic cuts Congress agreed to in 2011. These cuts are lasting and severe.

The House Budget proposal cut yearly non-defense appropriated spending by another approximately $759 billion on top of these sequestration cuts. By 2025, total funding for these programs (which includes foreign assistance, WIC, Head Start, and many other programs) would be at least 33 percent below what they were in 2010, adjusted for inflation.

The Senate budget proposal cuts yearly non-defense spending by another $236 billion on top sequestration. By 2025, total funding for these programs would be at least 24 percent below what they were in 2010, adjusted for inflation.

This puts even greater strain and heightens competition for every dollar, threatening funding for international foreign assistance, WIC, Head Start, low-income housing assistance, emergency food aid, and many other programs. 

Review of the Sequestration Agreements

Back in 2011, when Congress passed the law that established the sequestration cuts, it made an agreement. It was that automatic sequestration cuts would treat defense and non-defense spending equally.

During the committee mark-ups and floor debates, division emerged. Defense hawks protested the lower spending levels from sequestration. Ultimately, both chambers boosted defense spending by $96 billion in a special account that is not subject to the sequestration cuts or spending limit (known as Overseas Contingency Operations). However, a growing number of members of Congress are speaking out against the sequestration cuts, urging Congress to look to other areas in the budget, including revenues and other spending programs.

During the budget debates in late March, Bread stepped up its advocacy efforts, and our members responded. In particular, we urged the Senate to oppose several amendments. In the end, those amendments were either defeated or pulled before they could even get a vote.

Even though the House budget made horrendous cuts to programs that help people move out of poverty and put food on the table, there was a silver lining. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) got an entire section on food-aid reform included. This section: 1) asserted that cargo preference, monetization, and using only food commodities (practices in providing food aid that Bread believes are inefficient or harmful) “fails to use taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively,” and 2) endorsed the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015. This act would make many of the reforms that Bread has been seeking since last year’s Offering of Letters: Food-Aid Reform.

Round 2 and Beyond

When Congress returns after its two-week recess, it will conference the two budget resolutions. Bread will be watching closely to see what Congress agrees upon and the exact funding levels they give to specific programs.

We expect the spring and summer to be busy months as congressional committees mark up various budget bills. This could all come down to some important budget negotiations this fall between Congress and the White House.

Learn more: Budget Basics & Resources

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