U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), a cosponsor of the Extend, Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act (H.R. 3108), today joined Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) and other members of Congress to hold a press conference outside the Capitol to oppose pending cuts to the Food Stamp program.
If Congress fails to act, the Food Stamp program will be cut by about $5 billion in the year that begins on November 1. As a result, the average benefit for a family of four would drop by $36 per month, according to estimates from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Extend, Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act would prevent these cuts.
The text of Holt's remarks is below.
"Thank you all for coming out -- very good, humane, not just soft-hearted but hard-headed people who understand the value of Food Stamps.
"It's a real and mounting problem to confront hunger in America. In New Jersey, the number of Food Stamp participants has more than doubled since 2008. Much of the need is families who were anchored in the middle class until, through no fault of their own, they suffered job loss.
"The Recovery Act temporarily increased Food Stamp benefits by 13 percent, but even so, Food Stamps already provide only the barest of safety nets. The average benefit of $31.50 per week per individual, a dollar-fifty per meal, is not sufficient. Try it.
"We all know that, without public support, private charity could not conquer hunger alone. This week, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities in Trenton said, "This is freaking me out. I've never seen our food pantry shelves so empty. We don't have enough to feed people right now.'
"Now, as a scientist, I'm impressed by the body of research on Food Stamps. As the Lancet Medical Journal this month wrote, "Many studies have shown positive associations between receipt of SNAP and... a lower risk of anemia, obesity, poor health, hospital admission for failure to thrive, and reports of child abuse and neglect.' There are fewer low-weight babies and better performance in school.
"The benefits of Food Stamps echo for generations. Careful studies show that children of low-income women who received Food stamps were less likely, after they became adults, to have metabolic syndrome -- in other words, ill health such as diabetes -- as adults. The benefit lasts.
"So if you're fortunate enough to live on a much more comfortable food budget, try it; try living on the value of Food Stamps. You'll discover in a profound and troubling way the fragility of our safety net.
"And imagine how much more difficult it would be if the benefits were cut further."