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Food banks and hunger
programs throughout the country rely on federal nutrition programs to help
feed hungry Americans. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is
particularly important as the source of nearly 25% of the food moving through
the national network of food banks.
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the
foundation of the nutrition safety net, delivering monthly benefits to
participants through electronic benefit cards that can be used to purchase
groceries at stores nationwide. The benefits are targeted at our most
vulnerable neighbors. Seventy-six percent of SNAP households include a child,
elderly person or disabled person, and these households receive 84% of all
Food Program (CSFP) is a program that provides nutritious monthly food packages
to low-income participants, nearly 97 percent of whom are seniors living at or
below 130 percent of poverty ($14,157 for a senior living alone.) The
Greater Cleveland Food Bank distributes 700 of these boxes each month, helping to combat
the poor health conditions often found in food insecure seniors.
All of these
important programs are authorized and funded through the Farm Bill. The
current Farm Bill expired at the end of September, 2012, was extended for a
year, and expired again on September 30th, 2013. The Senate passed a version of the bill which
includes $4 billion in cuts to SNAP and modest increases to TEFAP. Rather than passing a bill, the House split
the nutrition section from the farm section, and passed two separate
bills. The nutrition bill cuts $40
billion from SNAP and has modest increases to TEFAP.
A conference committee
of Senate and House members is working now to reconcile the differences in the
two bills. Now is the time to ask our
legislators to protect these programs.
Hunger is a national
problem, and it needs a national solution that brings the resources and
strengths of both private charity and a strong federal safety net. Charity can do a lot, but food banks cannot
fill the gap if TEFAP commodity support does not increase and if cuts are made
to critical programs like SNAP.
Please take a minute to call Senators Portman and Brown and
your Member of Congress (202-224-3121) and tell that SNAP is an essential
safety net that should be protected from cuts.
You can also take action by filling out the form here.