At a visit today to Elijah's Promise in New Brunswick, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. held a press conference with local hunger advocates decrying cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) on the heels of House Republicans' latest effort to dismantle the program. Yesterday, House Republicans voted to remove critical SNAP funding from the Farm Bill, which would effectively kill the program.
"SNAP is our nation's most important anti-hunger safety net program and is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs, with one of the lowest -- if not the lowest -- rates of fraud, waste and abuse," said Pallone (D-NJ-06) . "The Republicans' never ending effort to cut and dismantle this program is cruel and does not reflect our values. In the wealthiest country in the world, we can't allow our children and families to go hungry."
According to the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, about 897,376 people were living below poverty level in New Jersey in 2011. The food insecurity level in the state was 12.7% overall and 19% for children, meaning 394,240 children were living in food insecure households.
Currently, 873,657 New Jersey residents and nearly one in seven Americans rely on SNAP to help cover the cost of their meals. The program provides basic nutrition assistance to qualifying low-income Americans, including senior citizens and children, and has largely eliminated severe hunger and malnutrition in the United States. SNAP is a powerful anti-poverty program, and lifted about 4.7 million Americans above the poverty line in 2011, including about 2.1 million children. Roughly 91 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line.
The Republican effort to further cut SNAP would mean more Americans, including children, will go hungry and malnourished, and an influx of pressure would be put on community soup kitchens.
Pallone has been outspoken in his support of SNAP and has called on House Republicans to stop holding the critical food assistance program hostage for political purposes. This week, Pallone voted against the FARM Bill that completely omitted the SNAP program from reauthorization, and he is a cosponsor of H. Res. 90, a resolution calling for an end of any further reductions to SNAP, which House Republicans have yet to bring up for a vote.
Pallone was joined today by Adele LaTourette, Director of New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition and Lisanne Finston, Executive Director of Elijah's Promise. Elijah's Promise is a community soup kitchen, culinary arts school, catering business, and pay-as-you-can café that connects low-income individuals and families with social and health services. Elijah's Promise serves 100,000 meals per year and trains previously unskilled workers for careers in the food service industry.