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156 posts categorized "SNAP"
Heather Rude-Turner credits the Earned Income Tax Credit with helping keep her out of poverty and get her back on her feet. Once Rude-Turner marries her fiancé Mark Diamond (pictured) and they combine their incomes, they will likely become ineligible for the EITC. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
By Marsha Casey
Hardship and economic struggle have taken a toll on many Americans. The high price of gas, public transportation, and food means low-income workers are often left to choose between paying their bills, spending money to get to work, or eating and providing for their families.
Federally funded safety-net programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) play a major role in preventing more Americans from falling into poverty. But even with programs like SNAP, which helps those with limited income to feed themselves and their families, putting food on the table is still a constant struggle.It's especially difficult in Mississippi, Alabama, and Delaware—the states that have the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. A recent study on the inability of Americans to afford food showed that one in every four Mississippi residents didn't know where their next meal would come from at least once during the last 12 months.
So what do we do for those Americans who are barely “making it?" How do we help the father who makes only enough money to pay his family’s household bills or the single mother who works longs shifts but still can't feed her children? The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are in place to help low- and moderate-income families. The EITC helps low-income working people keep more of the money they earn, while the CTC provides qualifying families with as much as $1,000 per child (for children under the age of 17) annually.
Whether the recipients save the funds for future rainy days, use the money to supplement their take-home earnings, or purchase something they’ve had to go without for an entire year, these tax credits are very beneficial. For the many people who face poverty in the United States, SNAP, EITC, and CTC were put in place to help. It is up to Congress to keep the funding for each of these key programs in place as lawmakers continue to work to balance the federal budget. And it is up to us to remind Congress that they must not balance the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people.
Marsha Casey is a media relations intern at Bread for the World. She is a student at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver-Spring Campus.
We have avoided the fiscal cliff, but we still have mountains to scale. We continue to advocate for programs that help poor as Congress continues tough budget negotiations.
Bread members have been essential in protecting tax credits for low-income families, domestic nutrition programs, and poverty-focused development assistance. However, several key actions by Congress over the next couple of months will again place such vital programs at risk. We encourage you to continue contacting your members of Congress to let them know that you want them to create a circle of protection around these programs. Soon Congress will begin negotiations to replace the sequester (automatic, across-the-board cuts) by March 1 and raise the debt ceiling by at least $1 trillion. The continuing resolution that extended the fiscal year 2013 budget and kept the government funded expires March 27. These events could be accompanied by significant spending cuts. We need you to keep reminding our legislators that they must not balance the budget on the backs of poor and hungry people.
We continue to message members of Congress as part of the 2012 Offering of Letters. Below is an updated sample letter to use when contacting your senators and representative. We will launch Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters, “A Place at the Table,” on March 1, and will keep you apprised of any changes or developments on the Bread Blog. We encourage you and members of your community or congregation to personalize your letters to Congress.
Dear Sen. ____________ or Rep. ____________,
Please prioritize hungry and poor people during the next round of budget negotiations. Over the next two months, your leadership is critical, especially as Congress looks to finalize the fiscal year 2013 budget, address sequestration, and raise the debt ceiling.
Specifically, I urge you to ensure adequate funding for programs that address hunger and help people move out of poverty. This will require additional revenues to address our deficits.
I appreciate Congress enacting the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The bill raises revenue for the first time in years, while also extending the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), two of America’s most effective anti-poverty programs. This bill also largely protects important anti-poverty programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Medicaid, and international food aid, from major cuts. But the work is not over. Although this fiscal cliff deal is a tremendous first step, more needs to be done to address our country’s long-term fiscal health and ensure funding for programs that fight hunger and lift people out of poverty. I am concerned about the across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take place if Congress does not develop a more comprehensive deficit-reduction package. I encourage Congress to balance responsible spending cuts with new revenues in order to address the country's long-term deficits without jeopardizing our nation's commitment to alleviating hunger and poverty.
Allowing these across-the-board cuts will hurt programs such as international poverty-focused development assistance and WIC. Cuts to some international development programs would deny life-saving nutrition to some of the poorest nations, while cuts to WIC could hurt hundreds of thousands of poor mothers and young children in the United States.
Our budget choices must not hurt those Jesus called “the least of these.” I urge you to form a circle of protection around funding for programs vital to hungry and poor people. May God continue to bless you and your work.
[City, State ZIP]
Photo: A college group writes letters to Congress. (Bread for the World)
By Dan Such
On Thursday, Dec. 6, members of the Peace and Justice Committee from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Oklahoma City met with Craig Smith, a field representative for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss federal programs that protect poor and hungry people. The discussion, which lasted an hour, was honest and direct and covered the many programs currently in place. Mr. Smith informed us that if no agreement is reached on the so-called fiscal cliff, the SNAP program will experience no cuts. Still, plenty of other important programs would be hit. "Going off" the cliff would result in significant cuts to a section of the budget called discretionary spending that houses programs such as WIC and poverty-focused development aid.
SNAP is an important program to Oklahomans, with 272,189 households receiving this benefit in the year 2011 alone. WIC is also vital, as a preliminary report from the USDA shows that 123,095 women and young children utilized this program in Oklahoma in 2012. If either of these programs experience cuts then the impact on poor and hungry people in Oklahoma would be significant. We must continue to urge our members of Congress to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff that includes a circle of protection around programs that protect poor and hungry people.
During the meeting, our committee told Mr. Smith that hunger and poverty should not be political issues. Our Peace and Justice Committee includes both Republicans and Democrats, and everyone realizes that any division on this subject will only prove to harm those in the most vulnerable positions. This is unacceptable, especially at a time of such great need.
We have seen need increasing in our own congregation. Father Tim Luschen, of St. Charles, brought to Mr. Smith’s attention that our church’s food bank has grown from 327 users to over 900 in just over two years. And the free clinic that St. Charles runs has doubled in usage during the same time frame.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Smith promised to keep in touch, via email, regarding pending legislation or proposed bills concerning these issues so important to all of us. We are grateful for his time and continue to urge Sen. Coburn to help establish a circle of protection around vital programs such as WIC and SNAP that serve hungry Oklahomans.
Dan Such is a member of Bread for the World and the Peace and Justice Committee at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Action: Call your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative today. Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell them to pass a deal that includes a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
For more information on how the various budget proposals to address the fiscal cliff would affect poor and hungry people, see Bread for the World's fiscal cliff fact sheet.
We are at a critical moment in the fiscal cliff negotiations. The decisions made now will determine our country’s ability—over the next decade and beyond—to fund programs that effectively address hunger and poverty.
We don't have much more time. It is imperative you call your members of Congress at 1-800-826-3688 today! Even if you've recently called your members of Congress, please call again. At this crucial moment, they cannot hear from you too often!
This fiscal cliff deal will have wide-reaching implications on so much of what we hold dear. The deal will determine our ability to provide assistance to babies here in the United States, such as eight-month-old Andre (pictured). It will also greatly impact our ability to provide assistance overseas. The future of these programs and the lives they touch are in jeopardy. If you don't raise them in the fiscal cliff discussions, who will?
This is more than a budget debate: it is a moral decision.
Call your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative today. Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell them to pass a deal that includes a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
Any deal must do the following:
- Explicitly protect low-income entitlement programs for hungry and poor people from harmful cuts and changes — programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit.
- Include sufficient new tax revenue by raising rates and eliminating unnecessary tax loopholes — so that our country can reduce its deficit.
- Prevent further cuts to discretionary programs, like poverty-focused development assistance and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Congress must reach a deal, but it must also adhere to our values. An imbalanced package will severely undermine our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. Call Congress today. We cannot let up now. Time is running out, and Congress needs to keep hearing from us.
Photo: Alex "Alli" Morris, from Bend, Ore., depends on SNAP, WIC, and other safety net programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system. (Brad Horn)
Time is running out for Congress and the president to come to a deal before we reach the fiscal cliff in January.
Negotiations are underway and moving fast. This is the moment for you to act. Call your senators and representative today and tell them to push for a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the budget agreement.
Ask them to:
- Include explicit protections for effective programs that serve hungry and poor people — programs such as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit;
- Balance responsible spending cuts with new tax revenue; and
- Prevent further disproportionate cuts to portions of the budget that fund poverty-focused development assistance, international food aid, and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).
For a side-by-side look at the budget proposals from President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner, and how those proposals would affect programs that help poor and hungry people, take a look at Bread's new fiscal cliff fact sheet.
Even if you’ve called before, your members of Congress can’t hear from you often enough on this important issue. Call the Capitol switchboard to be connected to your member of Congress: 202-224-3121, or use our toll-free number: 1-800-826-3688.
In recent days, some news media outlets and hosts have spoken out against Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker’s participation in a food stamp challenge. These remarks have served to mislead some about the vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).
Food stamp challenges are not publicity stunts. Many have used these challenges to experience what it’s like to eat on a food budget of about $4 per day—an average daily SNAP allowance. Booker’s challenge comes at a critical time for SNAP funding, as national leaders push to reduce spending on the program during year-end negotiations over broader spending cuts and the federal farm bill, which includes SNAP spending.
Here are some facts you should know about SNAP:
- SNAP has served more than 47 million Americans in 2012 (as of August). Enrollment in the program has almost doubled over the past five years as more people struggle to make ends meet.
- SNAP participation closely follows poverty and unemployment rates and has responded quickly and effectively to increased need due to the poor economy. While poverty and unemployment rates rose during the last three consecutive years, the number of families struggling to put food on their tables did not increase, mostly because of SNAP.
- The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $731 and assets of $333. Eighty-five percent of SNAP households have incomes below the federal poverty line of $22,050 for a family of four.
- SNAP participants are on the program an average of nine months. In a family budget, food is the most easily squeezed line item—SNAP helps fill the food budget gap for households struggling with unemployment or underemployment.
- SNAP currently has the lowest fraud and error rates on record.
For more facts about the program, read the Bread for the World publication "Get the Facts About SNAP."
By Sarah Godfrey
If you've turned on a television or computer this morning, or cracked a newspaper, you probably know that Newark mayor Cory Booker starts a weeklong SNAP challenge today. Booker will attempt to stick to food budget of $4.32 per day, the average daily Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allowance in New Jersey.
SNAP/food stamp challenges can be problematic, for a variety of reasons. Attempting to eat on a typical SNAP allotment for just a few days doesn't come close to replicating the experience of the roughly 45 million Americans who rely on the federal nutrition program to feed their families. Program recipients don't get to go back to "normal" after a week.That said, SNAP challenges can be beneficial in raising awareness around the importance of the program—especially when someone as prominent as Booker decides to participate. Local officials take SNAP challenges fairly regularly, but Booker is a rare city mayor whose every move attracts national attention.
Plus, Booker's challenge appeared to be more interesting than most at the outset, because it seemed he would be participating with someone vehemently opposed to SNAP.
The challenge was inspired by a November Twitter conversation Booker had with a North Carolina woman who had remarked that "nutrition is not a responsibility of the government." After a back-and-forth, Booker invited her to participate in a SNAP challenge with him. She agreed.
It's rare for someone so vocally opposed to SNAP to participate in a challenge, let alone in such a public way, so her participation presented a real opportunity for meaningful discourse between those who support federal nutrition programs, and those who do not. Would it change this woman's mind about SNAP? Would she realize how vital it is, and how harmful cuts to SNAP would be for millions of hungry people—many of them children? Would the challenge turn her into a pro-SNAP advocate?
We many not find out. There have been conflicting reports about whether or not the woman, whose Twitter handle is "@MWadeNC" is participating along with Booker. The Associated Press has reported that she started her challenge on Sunday; Slate wrote that the woman says she was never approached by his office, but did not say whether she would embark on the challenge on her own. The Washington Post has reported that the North Carolina woman plans to participate, but because she received death threats after sparring with Booker, she has decided to do so privately.
The fact that Booker's SNAP challenge has sparked a flood of discussion and media coverage at this critical time is a good thing. But if it had also could’ve managed to help two people with differing opinions on SNAP come to some sort of consensus around the program, the challenge would be even more helpful.
Sarah Godfrey is Bread for the World's associate online editor.
Take action: As budget negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" continue, pressure to cut SNAP and other programs that impact hungry and poor people has never been higher. Tell your members of Congress to create a circle of protection around SNAP and other domestic nutrition programs.
Photo by Flickr user nicolasnova
Budget negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" are now underway. The president and Congress are working intensely toward a deal — so pressure to cut federal spending, particularly to programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher.
For the next six weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. If we don’t speak up, vulnerable people could easily be forgotten.
Congress needs to hear your voice! We need your help to remind Congress to take the deficit seriously without balancing the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people. Proverbs calls us to speak for those without a voice. We must remind Congress that their budget decisions are moral choices that could have devastating consequences.
Call your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative today! Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell them to pass a budget deal that includes a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
Explain that any deal must
- Explicitly protect low-income entitlement programs for hungry and poor people—like SNAP (formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit—against cuts or harmful changes.
- Include additional tax revenue, balanced with responsible spending cuts, so that our country can reduce its deficits while continuing its commitment to reducing hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
- Prevent further cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including poverty-focused development assistance, international food aid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Congress must reach a deal, but it is critical that Congress get it right. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. Call Congress today. If we wait, it will be too late.
Grace and Peace,
Bread for the World
As the president and Congress continue to negotiate a deficit reduction plan, we must continue to ask that programs for poor and hungry people be prioritized. At a time when so many other issues are competing for center stage, your voice is especially crucial.
We are asking Bread members to use every tool at their disposal during this critical period—and that includes local media. Use the sample letter to the editor below as a template, and be sure to check out these helpful hints on how to get published in your local paper. Please let your regional organizer know if your submission is selected so that we can amplify it through our social media channels.
Sample Letter to the Editor
Thanksgiving has passed and budget negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” are now underway. The president and Congress are working intensely towards a deal—so pressure to cut federal spending, particularly to programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher.
For the next six weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. That’s why I am speaking out on their behalf.
As a member of Bread for the World and [Your church's name and location], I believe that the moral measure of our federal budget is how it treats those whom Jesus referred to as "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). We must remind Congress that their budget decisions are moral choices that could have devastating consequences on hungry and poor people.
Reaching a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff will require bipartisan compromise. But we cannot allow a hastily crafted bill to sacrifice our country's commitment to feeding hungry people. The policies in any deal must explicitly protect programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps); the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and the child tax credit. Any deal must also include additional tax revenue, balanced with responsible spending cuts, and it must prevent further cuts to the non-defense discretionary portion of the budget, which Congress has already cut by well over $1 trillion and funds programs like poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) and international food aid each year.
There are many working families in my state who rely on SNAP to keep food on the table and many others who are able to provide vital nutrition for their children through WIC. Poverty-focused development assistance programs help the poorest people in the poorest place lift themselves out of poverty and are important to our national security.
I know Congress and the President can reach a deal that reduces the deficit and maintains a circle of protection around programs that support hungry and poor people. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come.
Photo: Arlene Barela, a mother of two in Orange County, Calif., writes letters to Congress at Templo Calvario (Assembly of God church) in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sunday, October 16, 2011. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
At Bread, we are thankful for the many ways in which our country comes together on Thanksgiving. Charitable giving, food drives, holiday meals at soup kitchens, and the like allow the vast majority of Americans to participate in this celebration of harvest and thanksgiving.
Tomorrow, many families will also put food on their tables with the help of federal programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Poverty Nutrition Assistance, formerly known as food stamps). When the holiday season ends, and charitable giving decreases as we return to the busyness of our lives, those programs will continue to provide vital assistance to those in need.
And, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), released earlier this month, these programs are more crucial than ever.
The SPM is an attempt by the Census Bureau to measure poverty in a way that accounts for the ways in which our lives have changed over the last several decades. The “official” poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s, and though this measure is adjusted annually for inflation, it has more or less remained the same since it was created.
The SPM takes into account the following considerations that the Official Poverty Measure does not include:
- Government policies that alter the resources available to families—payroll taxes which reduce net income but also income-supports which ameliorate the impacts of poverty, such as tax credits and SNAP benefits (food stamps).
- Expenses that are necessary in holding a job, such as transportation and childcare
- Medical costs
- Variations in household units and support, such as child support payments, co-habitation, and multiple family households
- Geographic differences in the cost-of-living across the country
Here’s how the numbers from the SPM stack up against the official poverty measure:
According to the SPM, 16.1 percent of the U.S. population (49.7 million people) lived in poverty in 2011; data from the official poverty measure were 15.1 percent of the population (46.6 million people). In other words, 3.1 million more people lived in poverty, according to the SPM than the older official poverty measure.
- Fewer children lived in poverty in 2011, according to the SPM, as compared to official poverty data: 18.1 percent of children (13.4 million total) under 18, as measured by the SPM; 22.3 percent (16.5 million total children) by the official measure.
- Slightly more adults (ages 18-64) lived in poverty in 2011, according to the SPM: 15.5 percent (30.0 million total) by the SPM; 13.7 percent (26.5 million total) by the official measure.
- More older Americans lived in poverty in 2011, according to the SPM: 15.1 percent of adults 65 and above (6.2 million total) by the SPM; 8.7 percent (3.6 million total) for the official measure.
The SPM also helps measure the efficacy of anti-poverty programs. Among the findings:
- Without refundable tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit, child poverty would rise from 18.1 percent to 24.4 percent
- Without SNAP, the overall poverty rate would increase from 16.1 percent to 17.6 percent.
During the holidays, our country does an admirable job of remembering those in need, but direct assistance alone can't lift families out of poverty. As the SPM data shows, anti-poverty programs help the millions of families and children who are at risk of hunger—not only during the holiday season, but year-round.
Kyle Dechant is a fellow in Bread for the World's government relations department.