Today, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) joined Los Angeles hunger advocates and a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in speaking out against proposed cuts to food stamp programs in the Farm Bill currently under consideration in the United States House of Representatives. The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation that would cut more than $20 billion from food stamps programs nationally over the next decade, resulting in a reduction of $90 per month in assistance for the average California family of four.
The majority of SNAP cuts in the House bill come from eliminating a state option known as categorical eligibility, which allows seniors and low-income working families with modest incomes below the poverty line to receive assistance with feeding themselves and their families. By ending this provision, the House legislation would stop nearly 2 million low-income people from accessing food stamp assistance and result in more than 200,000 low income children being unable to receive a free school lunch, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office.
Under the Republican House proposal, some working poor families would also lose access to SNAP benefits simply because they own a reliable vehicle that they rely on to get to work and transport their children to school.
In response, Congresswoman Bass, Frank Tamborello of Hunger Action LA and SNAP recipient Monique Ruffin issued the following statements against the Republican House Farm Bill:
"I am beyond astonished that Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing we cut billions of dollars in funding for a program that helps the neediest Americans put food on their tables. When and where will this madness end. How much more do they want low-income and middle class Americans to suffer while we do nothing to pass a fair and balanced budget that asks the wealthiest Americans and corporations to pay their fair share so that we can grow our economy in a responsible way," said Congresswoman Bass. "Yes, we have to reduce the deficit but it is just foolish to think this can be done on the backs of the poorest Americans. In the last few years, Congress has enacted policies resulting in more than $2 trillion of savings and more than 70 percent of those savings have come from cuts. Enough is enough."
"Making cuts to SNAP would pull the rug out from under the progress we've made in reducing hunger during the recession, as well as progress in access to healthy diets and support for people working at low-wage jobs. In the recent past, SNAP has been seen as a bipartisan effort to strengthen American families. Cuts at this time will hurt low-income workers, will hurt the economy overall and worse than that, will harm our most vulnerable populations---our children, seniors, and a growing number of unemployed veterans who have put their lives on the line for the country," Tamborello said. "President Eisenhower said 50 years ago that weapons of war took food out of peoples' mouths. Nothing has changed and you can see this in the budget priorities for military hardware like drones over nourishment for Americans."
"I applied for SNAP after deciding to stay home to care for my child with Down syndrome. These services have been at the core of my family's health and well-being. Something as basic as access to healthy food means everything to families like mine," Ruffin said. "SNAP services have allowed me to stop fearing how I will feed my child and myself and focus on how I can help him discover his gifts and potential. Without food, meeting his potential would be completely out of reach. Cutting these services will prove highly detrimental for families where resources are limited but the desire to thrive and add value to society is present. These cuts will be a mistake."