America’s most effective anti-hunger initiative is SNAP (food stamps).
In Washington, the 15th hungriest state in the nation, it helps put food on the table for 1.1 million hungry people, providing about $1.40 per person, per meal.
That may not sound like much, but to a hungry family with children, SNAP makes all the difference in the world.
SNAP helps families stay on their feet as they find work and put their kids through school. For many, SNAP means they can pay rent and cook dinner in their own home. For others, SNAP means being able to afford childcare for working parents and provide their kids with a nutritious breakfast.
For far too many, SNAP means they can make ends meet with their full-time jobs that don’t pay enough otherwise. The problem of hunger and food insecurity on early childhood development is real and research has shown a lasting impact on academic and life success.
Yet in Farm Bill negotiations, Congress is now proposing changes to cut another $8.6 billion from SNAP. This, just after Congress already cut $11 billion when they let economic stimulus spending for SNAP lapse on Nov. 1.
Turning to our hungry children and low income working families—again—to solve budget problems is no solution. Currently 15.8 million children experience hunger in the US (21.6 percent of all children) and 30.5 million (42.1 percent) of all children under 18 live in families with incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
We as a nation need to protect our most vulnerable and passing a Farm Bill that increases hunger among children, seniors and veterans is not an option.
Let your legislators know SNAP is part of our vital safety network helping nourish our children and provide them with opportunities to be successful in school and life.
Kristen Rezabek, San Juan Island
— Editor’s note: Kristen Rezabek is executive director of Nutrition First, a San Juan Island-based non-profit.