211 posts categorized "SNAP"
"In the Biblical framework, God made three provisions for hungry people. One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat. The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and Jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent a class of people who were always hungry. The last was gleaning, where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves.
Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity."
- Gary Cook, director of church relations at Bread for the World, quoted September 21, 2013, in The Christian Post.
As the economy slowly rebounds, 47 million Americans still depend on SNAP to put food on their tables. A recent bill passed in the House would cut the program by nearly $40 billion, putting a greater burden on the already struggling churches and charities that provide about $4 billion in food annually. Learn more about churches and hunger with this fact sheet and tell your member of Congress to protect SNAP in the farm bill.
Photo: Food distribution in southeast Washington, DC, in November, 2009. (Mark Fenton)
By Christine Meléndez Ashley
Last Thursday was not a good day. After months of faithful advocacy against deep cuts to SNAP – in district meetings, local media, more than 7,000 emails and hundreds of phone calls to Congress – the House narrowly passed a bill cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by $40 billion. Emotions felt by faithful anti-hunger advocates likely mirrored my own. Defeat. Sorrow. Outrage. A sense of loss and disappointment, along with the question, “Now what?” hanging over my head.
But I woke up Friday morning with Psalm 108 on my heart, a psalm we had read in the office shortly before the vote on Thursday afternoon:
My heart is steadfast, O God! For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. [Psalm 108:1, 4 ESV]
What originally was a prayer for victory became a prayer of comfort to me. Regardless of the wins or losses on Capitol Hill, we stand steadfast, remembering that God is, God has been, and God will continue to be faithful. We may not have won on this bill, but this isn’t the end of the line in our advocacy for a strong SNAP program. With this psalm buoying my spirit, I look forward to the work that needs to be done.
Now that the Senate and the House have each passed a version of the farm bill, it’s time for a conference committee to come together and iron out the differences between the policies passed by each chamber. The Senate previously passed a bill with $4 billion in SNAP cuts. Obviously, it will be a tough negotiation to protect SNAP.
The farm bill technically expires on Monday, September 30, but it is almost certain we will not have a final bill by then. Historically, farm bills have been allowed to expire for a couple months before a final bill has been passed. This will likely be the case again this year. SNAP is a unique farm bill program in that it can continue past the September 30 deadline as long as the government is open and functioning. This gives us as advocates the time we need to make sure our message is heard loud, clear, and often: SNAP must be protected in any final farm bill.
As Congress works out the parliamentary and procedural details of how to move forward, we continue to press on in our faithful advocacy. Now is a critical time to let your representatives know you were watching how they voted. Call 1-800-826-3688 and express your thanks or your frustration and outrage at their vote. Our calls today could mean a difference in how representatives vote on SNAP cuts in the future!
The nutrition bill passed but it was a very close vote. Threats to SNAP will continue to come up this fall but victory - protecting SNAP - is within our reach. Stand steadfast and stay tuned for updates from us in the coming weeks.
Christine Meléndez Ashley is a policy analyst at Bread for the World.
By Zach Schmidt
Only 15 Republicans voted against H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, with strong pressure from party leadership to support the bill. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) of Lincoln, Nebraska, was one of the few who went against his party and opposed the nearly $40 billion cut to SNAP (food stamps), which could result in nearly 4 million people—including 10,000 Nebraskans—losing benefits.
Rep. Fortenberry’s “no” vote was the result of years of advocacy from Bread for the World members and coalition partners in Lincoln, capped by an eleventh-hour surge spearheaded by local Bread leaders and allies. Local directors Scott Young at the Food Bank of Lincoln and Beatty Brasch at the Center for People in Need, and their respective staffs, reached out and urged Fortenberry to oppose the bill. They provided local stories and data on hunger in Lincoln and explained how the bill would harm vulnerable people who were already struggling to get by. Lincoln Bread leader Kristin Ostrom rallied faith leaders across the state to weigh in as well. It was clearly a team effort, and a successful one!
In response to a statewide news article in the Omaha World Herald about how Rep. Fortenberry split with his party to vote against the bill, Ostrom led an effort to generate public comments thanking Fortenberry for his “no” vote. That effort led to 160 people—including faith, education, and nutrition leaders—publically supporting Rep. Fortenberry’s “no” vote on H.R. 3102. He received more than 130 ”likes” on Facebook and more than 30 positive comments on the Omaha World Herald piece. Commenters thanked Rep. Fortenberry not only for his vote, but for his compassion, his courage, and for “standing with the least of these.” One commenter said he was “grateful that Mr. Fortenberry stood with the hungry of Nebraska.”
We wanted to make it clear that Rep. Fortenberry has strong and vocal support for his decision to protect poor and hungry people.
Great, great work to Kristin Ostrom and Bread members and coalition partners in Lincoln and across Nebraska! This is what effective advocacy looks like.
Zach Schmidt is a Bread for the World regional organizer in the Central Hub, which includes Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Bread for the World policy analyst Amelia Kegan and director of church relations Gary Cook travel to the White House in August to deliver the first set of signatures from Bread for the World members asking the president to set a goal and work with Congress on a plan to end hunger in the United States and abroad. (Joseph Mollieri/Bread for the World)
By Amelia Kegan
You may be overwhelmed by the number of times we have asked you to call your members of Congress lately. You may be so angry at the partisan brinkmanship that you want to ignore the news. I know because sometimes I feel it, too. But I’m not giving up and we won’t stop asking you to speak up. Your voice makes a difference; there is too much at stake to lose faith now.
Soon Congress must pass a responsible budget and the path there will include more partisan fights over a continuing resolution, the debt ceiling, and sequestration. The fate of SNAP in the farm bill is still uncertain as the House and Senate move toward a reconciliation process. At each juncture we must be vigilant and vocal or risk an increase in hunger both at home and abroad.
Bread for the World knows ending hunger requires a long-term vision. We envision transitioning from a political climate of defensive protection to a bold offensive against hunger, transforming the rhetoric of scarcity into one of hope and abundance. We will pull out by the roots this political culture that blames the poor and demonizes those on SNAP. We will replant a new seed of radical commitment to ending hunger within Congress and the White House—a seed that will eventually yield economic security for all and a real opportunity to attain the American Dream. We will grow this transformation with the soil of on-the-ground, person-to-person grassroots organizing, the waters of political accountability, and by radiating the fierce unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
But staring only at that grand vision of ending hunger in our time without attending to the immediate fights in front of us is like driving with our sights on the horizon while ignoring that sharp and dangerous curve in the road right just up ahead. How will we end hunger in this generation if 2014 begins with 4 million Americans kicked off of SNAP and 2 million more people around the world denied lifesaving food aid because of the sequester?
The budget battles we are fighting today are becoming part of the political narrative defining this era. There is no doubt in my mind that if we keep at it we will emerge victorious because we're in the right on this. When those suffering from hunger are able to fill their dinner tables with more than just anxious conversation, we all benefit. History, economics, and scripture have taught us that we are all in this together.
While each new budget fight might bring a level of increased exhaustion, frustration, and irritation, we cannot be discouraged. We must continue the relentless struggle over these fiscal fights. And while some may question the sustainability of our seemingly small efforts, we know the parable of the mustard seed and that with faith, we move mountains.
As we face the next several months, prepare yourself for the trial ahead by taking comfort in the certainty that you are not alone in God’s kingdom and everyone deserves a place at the table.
Amelia Kegan is a senior policy analyst for Bread for the World.
By David Beckmann
We were so close! Thank you for your advocacy last week. You and other anti-hunger advocates sent more than 3,000 emails and made hundreds of phone calls opposing a House proposal to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by nearly $40 billion.
Despite our best efforts, this nutrition bill passed by a vote of 217 to 210 on the House floor. The seven-vote margin reflects the pressure you exerted on your representatives.
Now it is critical that you hold your representative accountable—let him or her know you were watching! Find out how House members voted and then call your representative. Either thank your representative for voting “no” or express your outrage over a “yes” vote.
This bill not only includes nearly $40 billion in cuts to SNAP, it would kick almost 4 million Americans off of the program next year. Churches and charities would have to nearly double their food assistance to make up the difference.
Our advocacy on the farm bill is far from over. As Congress moves to finalize a farm bill, we press on, reminding our legislators that any farm bill must protect hungry and poor people.
We will call on you again in the coming months. Last week’s vote was close, and we must win the next one. We will continue to advocate with and for the most vulnerable in our country and around the world.
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
In just hours, the House of Representatives will vote on a proposal to cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion. If the bill passes, the House will be sending a dangerous message: it’s OK to pick on poor people. We must urge members of the House to vote "no" on H.R. 3102.
On Wednesday, Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann carried a different message from faithful advocates to the nation’s capital—that deep cuts kicking as many as 4 million poor, childless adults off of the SNAP program is morally wrong.
The nearly $40 billion cut would come on top of the Nov. 1 expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act, which will lead to a reduction in SNAP benefits for millions.
Earlier in the week, leaders from the Circle of Protection, a coalition of more than 65 heads of denominations and religious agencies, plus more than 5,000 church pastors, wrote letters to Congress urging a "no" vote on a bill that would cut SNAP. Christians know that God has a special concern for the poor and hungry and so the faithful are speaking out against cuts to the nation’s foremost tool against hunger and hardship.Currently, 47 million Americans benefit from SNAP, but that number is expected to be drop once the economy recovers.
“These proposed cuts are a clear indication that some in Congress underestimate the hunger that is present in millions of American homes," Beckmann wrote in his letter to Congress. "The amendment picks on the poorest people in the country. This is morally and economically unacceptable especially as some areas continue to experience high unemployment. Congress needs to focus on creating more jobs and not cut programs that stave off hunger for millions of people.”
Now it is time for every faithful advocate to join our religious leaders and make a statement with phone calls—ending hunger should be a priority in our nation. New U.S. Census data shows that although poverty continues to be at an all-time high, the safety net is working. In a floor speech this morning, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1) said that H.R. 3102, and kicking hungry people off of SNAP, is not the right focus. Ending hunger requires addressing at the root causes of hunger. “Let’s cut poverty,” said Rep. Bonamici, “not nutrition assistance.”
The vote is expected to take place approximately 4:30 p.m. ET, so there is still time. Call 800-326-4941 to be connected to the Capitol switchboard and tell your representative to vote against H.R. 3102. Bread for the World will be following the vote with our Twitter feed, @bread4theworld.
Photo: David Beckmann urges members of Congress to create a circle of protection around SNAP during a press conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
Update: House votes 217 to 210 to Cut $40 Billion from SNAP
It’s been a busy week in Congress and I know you’ve heard a lot from us, but this is urgent. We need you to raise your voice once more.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 3102, a bill that would cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by nearly $40 billion. This vote will be incredibly close, and we understand that many members are still on the fence. Your voice is urgently needed to defeat this bill!
Tell your representative to vote “no” on H.R. 3102. If enacted, this bill would mean that:
- Nearly 4 million people would be kicked off of SNAP.
- Churches and charities would have to nearly double their current food assistance over the next 10 years to handle the increase in need.
On Nov. 1, all SNAP households will see their monthly benefits reduced whether this proposal passes or fails. Now is not the time to cut SNAP.
Call 800-326-4941 to be connected to the Capitol switchboard and tell your representative to vote against H.R. 3102.
Thank you for using your voice to help end hunger in this country.Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.
By Christine Meléndez Ashley
Late yesterday afternoon, House leadership released the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 (H.R. 3102), which includes nearly $40 billion in SNAP cuts. The House could vote on the bill as early as Thursday, Sept. 19.
If enacted, we estimate almost 4 million people would be taken off SNAP through changes to the program's eligibility rules and work requirements. HR 3102 is the nutrition title of the House version of the farm bill.
Kicking this many people off SNAP will place a greater burden on churches and charities that are already struggling to provide food assistance. They would have to nearly double their current food assistance over the next ten years in order to handle the influx. In 2011, private churches and charities provided approximately $4 billion in food assistance—federal nutrition programs provided 23 times as much.
As in the original House farm bill, about 2 million people would be taken off SNAP under HR 3102, since the bill will make every state use the same income and asset tests, regardless of variations in cost of living or the economies of each state. About 210,000 kids will lose access to free school meals and 850,000 households will have their benefits reduced.
Newer provisions in the House bill take away the ability of states to allow adults without dependents to continue receiving benefits when unemployment is high and jobs are scarce. States can currently waive these requirements when unemployment rates are at least 10 percent or there is a demonstrated lack of sufficient jobs.
Regardless of what happens with this proposal, or any farm bill, every SNAP household will see its monthly SNAP allotment reduced on Nov. 1. Benefits are expected to drop to about $1.40 per meal—a family of 4 can expect to lose about $35 a month.
Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against deep and harmful cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email.Christine Meléndez Ashley is a policy analyst at Bread for the World.
"During the Great Recession, the number of Americans needing food aid has understandably increased. Millions of families survived very hard times thanks in part to this assistance. Children were protected from irreversible developmental damage. Hunger-related health care costs were averted. We support efforts to reduce our annual deficits and enact structural reforms to bring our revenues and expenses back into balance. But we believe this can be done without further burdening our most vulnerable citizens, and without cutting appropriations for vital food assistance programs."—Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, in a letter send to the House of Representatives this week, urging members to protect SNAP.
Yesterday, Christian leaders urged members of the House of Representatives to vote “no” on a proposed bill that will further cut SNAP by $40 billion over the next 10 years. In letters to their members of Congress, the Christian leaders expressed deep moral outrage over these proposed new cuts and their effects on the nation’s most vulnerable people. Copies of their letters are available online at www.circleofprotection.us.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the cuts that would impact nearly 4 million food insecure Americans later this week. Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against deep and harmful cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email.
Photo: Leylanie, 7, the daughter of hunger activist Barbie Izquierdo, eats cereal at her Lancaster, Pa., home. Izquierdo is a Philadelphia native whose firsthand experiences with hunger and poverty have made her an anti-hunger activist and nationwide speaker on the topic. Barbie has worked with Witness to Hunger in Philadelphia and talks about her time on SNAP in the documentary A Place at the Table (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).
Roughly 49 million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. (Film still from A Place at The Table, courtesy of Participant Media)
- 63.2 percent of people in the U.S. have a job or are actively seeking work — the lowest labor force percentage since 1978.
- 10 percent was the peak unemployment rate in October 2009, and dropped to 7.6 percent as of May 2013. Today there are three unemployed people for every job opening.
- 47 million Americans have depended on SNAP to put food on the table as of February 2013, compared to just over 26 million in December of 2006 before the recession began (Dec. 2007).
- 15 percent of the population was living below the poverty line in 2011 and 34.4 percent were considered poor or near poor (living below 200 percent of the poverty line). Pre-recession the poverty rate was 13 percent (2007).
- $14,500 is what a person working full-time at the minimum wage earns per year. The official poverty line for a family of three—one parent with two children—is $17,568 and most families need to make twice that to afford basic needs.
But surrounding those numbers is a silver lining: the safety net works. Recent numbers released by USDA show that although too many, 14.5 percent, in the United States continue to struggle with hunger, the system has not failed. While jobs vanished and the poverty rate is the highest in decades, the prevalence of food insecurity – meaning a lack of money or resources to provide for the next meal – remained essentially unchanged since 2008.
- 42 percent of food-insecure households were aided by the SNAP program in 2012.
- 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households in 2012, compared to 16.7 in 2011.
Still, 49 million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from in a country filled with abundance. We must do better and we cannot weaken the safety net without seeing those numbers rise. But some in Congress propose to do just that. Here are some disturbing numbers and consequences.
- $40 billion is the amount of SNAP cuts in a House of Representatives proposal that expected to be voted on in the next couple of weeks.
- 6 million people may lose or receive reduced benefits if the cuts are enacted.
- $167.5 billion is the estimated cost to the country, directly and indirectly, for hunger in 2011, taking into account its effects on health, education, and economic productivity.
- $96.9 billion is the amount spent on food benefits in federal nutrition programs in 2011, compared to $4.1 billion in food distributed by private charities during the same period. Churches and charities cannot fill in the gap if the government were to drastically reduce spending on anti-hunger programs.
The numbers add up to a simple conclusion: protecting and reinforcing the safety net, especially during tough economic times, means fewer people go hungry. The sum is greater than its parts. Tell your member of Congress to vote NO on SNAP cuts in the House farm bill.