Good news—Congress was finally able to reach an agreement on the Farm Bill, showing that, although it may be rare, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can still work in a bipartisan fashion to pass legislation.
But hold your applause.
The bad news—the compromise that was reached cut another $8.6 billion in funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. And with the bill now passed through Congress and on its way to the president’s desk, it looks as though this cut is here to stay.
While we were happy to see lawmakers agree to a number substantially lower than the $40 billion in cuts initially proposed by the House of Representatives, more than $8 billion in lost funds is still a damaging hit to this program. In real terms, almost 850,000 households throughout the country will lose about $90 per month in food assistance. And more than one-third of those households are in California, a state with an especially large Latino population.
This is also the second major cut to the program that we’ve seen just in the past few months. Last November, families who rely on SNAP saw a substantial reduction in benefits as an automatic $5 billion cut took effect.
Using a program that more than 47 million Americans rely on to put food on the table as a political bargaining chip is simply unconscionable. While this money may not seem like much, for struggling families it can mean the difference between a child eating dinner or going to bed with an empty belly. In fact, SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective tools in this nation to keep children from going hungry and to keep low-income families out of poverty. With unemployment still high, especially among Latinos, and the economy still recovering, programs like SNAP are essential buffers that millions of Americans need.
Billions of dollars in cuts quickly add up. And while some in Congress see these cuts as essential savings, we see them as a senseless approach to reducing government spending. SNAP is a program that works. We cannot continue to allow Congress to put a price on the health of our children.