Advocates to Farm Bill Conferees: Give Thanks for SNAP, Don’t Cut It
Washington – The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children today released a letter urging key congressional negotiators to deliver “Farm Bill” legislation that rejects deep cuts to federal investments in child nutrition. The letter, coordinated by the First Focus Campaign for Children, was sent to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and signed by more than 35 national advocates for children, educators, parents, food pantries, faith communities, and others.
“With Thanksgiving just days away, Congress should be looking for ways to do more for kids and families struggling with hunger, not making it harder for them to get by,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
Legislation passed in September by the United States House of Representatives would cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) funding by nearly $40 billion over 10 years. Forty-seven percent of SNAP funding goes to children. The House bill also makes several SNAP policy changes that would make it harder for hungry children to get the food they need. Specifically, it would:
- Cut funding for SNAP Education, an initiative that helps parents learn how to buy and prepare healthy foods and get the most nutritional value for every SNAP dollar;
- Direct state SNAP agencies to take families’ SNAP funds away if not fully used within 60 days, as families might do to stretch resources in response to a job loss, an illness, a wage cut, or other economic setback;
- Deny SNAP to some ex-offenders, which harms children by reducing the family’s net SNAP resources;
- Encourage states to impose a work requirements on families receiving SNAP, by allowing states to reallocate half of any savings from a work requirement program that results in SNAP denials (but does not require states to expand job training slots or reinvest recovered funds in job training programs); and
- Allow states to drug-test children and other SNAP recipients.
“It’s simple math – nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to children, so the House plan takes food from hungry kids,” said Lesley.
The legislation would also weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). FFVP provides funding to help local schools make fresh produce available to children in low-income communities, but the bill would make dried, canned, and frozen produce – including products with added sugar, salt, or other additives – eligible for FFVP funding.
“Politicians and Big Ag lobbyists can’t fool the American people – pizza’s not a vegetable, and canned fruits packed in sugar syrup aren’t fresh,” said Lesley.
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.