Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Chair, I rise today in opposition to this Farm Bill, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, due to the unconscionable cuts to the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps.
Across the country, over 47 million of our fellow Americans depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to put food on their tables each and every day. In my home state of New Jersey alone, SNAP serves over 800,000 individuals. These are our friends, family, and neighbors. An average monthly benefit of $133.36 per person for recipients in New Jersey amounts to $1.48 per meal. This does not go very far towards buying nutritious food in a state where the cost of living is high. That's why 90 percent of benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month.
Eighty-three percent of SNAP benefits go to households with children, seniors, or disabled Americans. These are not freeloaders or people trying to game the system; they are our most vulnerable citizens. When the going gets tough, we have a responsibility to ensure that a safety net is in place for them. When our people go hungry, we pay the consequences down the road. Poor nutrition and hunger leads to costly but entirely avoidable health problems. Furthermore, as a former teacher, I know that students who go hungry have trouble focusing in school. We need to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to excel to keep us competitive in today's global economy.
This bill, however, would take us down the wrong path. It further tightens eligibility requirements for SNAP, cutting $20.5 billion by kicking about two million people off the program. This bill will also kick 210,000 kids off of school meals, and reduce benefits by an average of $90 for 850,000 additional households. If we want to reduce the costs of this program, don't cruelly throw people off the roles. Let's create some jobs and as our economic recovery gains steam, SNAP costs will decline as more and more Americans find steady work.
We are the greatest nation on earth. Our Farm Bills are designed to ensure that we can produce food to feed the world. Shouldn't we first ensure that we can provide for our own?