Protect Investments in Child Nutrition, Advocacy Group Tells Senate Committee
Washington – Tuesday, the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children sent letters to every member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, asking that federal nutrition legislation scheduled for consideration by the committee today maintain the nation’s investment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). The text of the letter sent to Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) appears below.
“SNAP works – it provides nutritious food, so more than 20 million kids can stay focused on learning, and reduces poverty by helping parents make ends meet during tough economic times,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that SNAP reduced the poverty rate in 2009 by nearly eight percent. The study also found that SNAP has a greater poverty-reduction impact on families with children, because children are more likely to be poor and constitute about half of SNAP beneficiaries.
Early drafts of the legislation released by the committee would cut SNAP by more than $4 billion over ten years. First Focus Campaign for Children’s analysis shows that 49% of SNAP funding benefits children, by providing milk, vegetables, and other groceries. One in five American children goes to sleep at night not sure whether they or a family member will go hungry the next day.
If approved, the Senate committee’s legislation would be the second cut to child nutrition by a congressional committee in two weeks. On April 18th, the House Agriculture Committee passed budget reconciliation legislation that would cut $36 billion from SNAP.
The legislation’s SNAP cuts are a marked departure from other provisions that maintain and enhance other nutrition commitments. A draft circulated prior to the committee’s meeting would protect funding for emergency food banks, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and healthy eating consumer education.
“It’s great that this legislation continues to invest in nutrition education, but it’s ironic that the same proposal would deny people the resources they need to buy healthy foods,” said Lesley.
If approved, the Senate committee’s proposal would require floor passage before negotiations with the House. Compromise legislation would need to be enacted prior to October 1st, when the current child nutrition and the underlying “Farm Bill” legislation sunsets.
“As child nutrition legislation moves to the floors of both chambers, we urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to insist on real nutrition solutions for children in families hit hard by the recession,” said Lesley.
Download a copy of the letter here.
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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 a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
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