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Public Statements

Congressional Black Caucus: Hunger in America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the stance of the Congressional Black Caucus in their daily fight to preserve, support and increase funding for initiatives to end hunger in America. The Congressional Black Caucus has proposed a fiscally sound and morally responsible budget that protects the SNAP program as well as other programs that are vital to vulnerable communities.

As a member of the House Hunger Caucus, Out of Poverty Caucus, and proud co-sponsor of H.R. 3353, the ``Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act'' I am dedicated to educating my fellow Members on hunger-related issues as I understand the devastating impact hunger has on millions of children and families in our country.

The cuts in SNAP benefits implemented on November 1, 2013, reduce the amount per-meal that beneficiaries receive to $1.40, affecting not only the families that rely on SNAP but also straining the resources of local food pantries that will be pressed to fill the gap, to keep people from going hungry. Together, the SNAP meals lost in 2014 from the scheduled cuts--nearly 3.4 billion meals--would exceed the projected annual meal distribution by Feeding America food banks around the country.

Further, a family of 4 will receive $36 less each month which translates into a week of groceries that will be taken away from poor working families, disabled persons, the elderly and children.

This reduction in benefits is the largest wholesale cut in the program since Congress passed the first Food Stamps Act in 1964 and affects nearly one in seven Americans or more than 47 million people. The cut is equivalent to 16 meals a month for a family of three.

SNAP programs lifted 4.7 million Americans above the poverty line in 2011, including 2.1 million children. Approximately 91% of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line. SNAP is also a win for the economy because every $1 in benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity.

In the 18th Congressional District of Texas, my constituency, there are 154,741 persons who will suffer because of the reduction in food assistance to an average of $1.40 meal. Studies have documented the inadequacy of this level of funding to meet the minimal nutrition requirements for children and families. Hundreds of thousands of Texans may go hungry if the cuts to the SNAP programs are not restored.

As I stated earlier I am a strong advocate for H.R. 3353, the ``Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act'', which maintains SNAP benefits at the pre-November 1, 2013 levels and allows the House and Senate to work to reach agreement on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget for food programs.

Congress has the power to enact supporting legislation for the individuals, families, and communities that struggle with food security in our country. I encourage the collaboration of both sides of the aisle to work for this common good.

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