In Washington, the House of Representatives voted today 218 to 199 to approve a deficit reduction measure that includes a drastic $36 billion cut to SNAP. This is the same cut that was approved by the House Budget Committee on Monday, May 7, and by the House Agriculture Committee on April 18. The complete deficit reduction package would generate savings largely from deep cuts to programs that assist low-income families.
Second Harvest North Florida is already experiencing affects from cuts in federal support – enduring cuts of more than 2 million pounds of USDA commodities for the 2011-12 fiscal year, or roughly 10 percent of the food distributed by the food bank a year ago. Below is a statement from Second Harvest Executive Director Bruce Ganger regarding the latest action by the House.
Statement from Bruce Ganger, executive director, Second Harvest North Florida:
“Second Harvest North Florida is outraged by today’s vote by the House of Representatives to slash hunger relief spending by nearly $36 billion. Local charities are already stretched to the breaking point trying to keep up with increased need. Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, would be devastating to our community, and there is no way charities like ours would be able to make up the difference.
“Taking care of our neighbors is an American value, and feeding our neighbors is a shared responsibility. Every day Second Harvest North Florida sees this partnership reflected in the generous support of our volunteers and donors, and we are grateful that this value is reflected in Washington through important anti-hunger programs like SNAP. Cutting SNAP is an abdication of that responsibility, and to do so at a time when the need for food assistance has never been greater is both reckless and short-sighted.
“Our food bank serves households who have too much in income or assets to qualify for SNAP but who still struggle to feed their families. We also serve many SNAP participants whose benefits are inadequate to get them through the month. Benefits average less than $1.50 per person per meal, leaving many participating families to turn to local charities to make ends meet.
“SNAP is targeted at our most vulnerable: 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled person, and 85 percent have gross income at or below 100 percent of the poverty line. Deficit reduction is an important national priority, but it must not be undertaken without regard to our national values and it must not come at the expense of our most vulnerable.”