House Bill Slashes $40 Billion in Food Stamps – Drastic Cuts Would Eliminate Free School Meals for 280,000 Children, Remove Food Aid for Millions of Families
Ahead of the first public meeting of the Senate and House 2013 Farm Bill conference committee, U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined a coalition of 38 of his colleagues in urging the conferees to fight against harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The senators also urged the negotiators to reject all eligibility changes that would prevent millions of children, seniors and families facing a constant struggle against hunger from accessing nutritious food and hundreds of thousands of low-income children from accessing free school meals.
Cuts to SNAP funds in the House Bill would drastically cut food security for thousands of New Mexicans.
The text of the letter follows:
The 2013 Farm Bill conference committee members are working on a compromise between the two different pieces of legislation passed by the Senate and House earlier this year. In June, the Senate passed a Farm Bill, which included $4.5 billion in cuts to the SNAP program, while the House passed legislation last month with even steeper cuts, slashing $40 billion over 10 years.
In the letter to Farm Bill conference committee members, the senators wrote, “While we support efforts to improve the integrity of the SNAP program, we encourage conferees to reject all SNAP eligibility changes designed to erect new barriers to participation, preventing millions of seniors, children and families from accessing food assistance. The eligibility changes also will mean an additional 280,000 children would lose free school meals because children in SNAP households are automatically eligible for school meals.”
SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income families, and provides economic benefits to communities. Funding cuts to SNAP and changes to SNAP eligibility would prevent millions of struggling families from accessing food assistance. These changes would have devastating economic effects in New Mexico, where over 20 percent of people participate in SNAP.
In New Mexico, more than 78 percent of SNAP participants in are in families with children, and 22 percent of participants are in families with elderly or disabled members. Over half of SNAP participants – 51 percent – are working families. Benefits average $1.42 per individual, per meal, and within this limited budget, parents struggle to provide healthy, nutritious meals for themselves and their family.
“SNAP provides a safety net that allows our most vulnerable population to fulfill their fundamental human need for food. This program helps struggling families to put groceries on their tables when faced with financial troubles. Nearly half of those who receive SNAP benefits in New Mexico are children, and cuts to this program pose a threat to their health and their futures,” Udall said. “Cuts to SNAP will hit New Mexico families hard, and Congress must not balance its budget on the backs the most vulnerable individuals within our communities.”