ACTION NEEDED: Sign and Share the National, State and Community-based Organizational Letter Opposing Structural Changes and Budget Cuts to SNAP
FRAC and our partners in the NAHO (National Anti-Hunger Organizations) have written a sign-on letter strongly opposing structural changes (e.g., a block grant) and budget cuts to SNAP. With your help, we would like to get over 5,000 national, state and local groups to sign on to this letter.
Please sign your organization onto this letter and send it to other organizations on your e-mail list.
Click here (pdf) for the latest list of organizations that have signed on.
Congressional leaders need to hear a strong message from groups across the country that Congress should protect SNAP from budget cuts and changes to the structure of the program that would weaken its ability to help the poorest and hungriest people in the country.
Contact Etienne Melcher if you are having problems signing onto the letter.
We are writing to express in the strongest possible terms our opposition to structural changes and budget cuts proposed for FY 2012 and beyond that would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP,” or food stamps).
For four decades SNAP has enjoyed strong bipartisan support and has been a fundamental bulwark for the poorest and hungriest people in our nation. Deemed “a government reform that worked” by the National Journal, the program serves as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. If it is weakened, many millions of seniors, people with disabilities, children, struggling parents – working and unemployed – and others will suffer. If it is weakened, the nation will see more hunger and poverty, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs. If SNAP is weakened, the nation as a whole will be weaker – morally, economically and fiscally.
SNAP has extraordinary strengths:
•It reduces hunger and food insecurity by providing very low-income people desperately needed, targeted assistance to purchase food through an effective and efficient electronic benefit transfer system.
•When the national economy or a regional, state or area economy is in trouble, the program is among the most effective government responses. It reacts quickly and robustly to economic problems. This has been seen most clearly and dramatically in the 2008-2011 period, when millions of people became newly unemployed or underemployed. The program responded quickly to provide desperately needed help in the downturn.
•There is the same responsiveness when disasters strike, as occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Disaster SNAP responded quickly and effectively to meet the increased need in Gulf Coast states.
•Because SNAP benefits are so urgently needed by families, they are spent quickly—97 percent of benefits are redeemed by the end of the month of issuance—thereby bolstering local economies. Estimates issued by Moody’s Analytics and others of the economic growth impact of SNAP during a recession range from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits.
•SNAP is targeted to go to the neediest people in our country. 93 percent of benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line. This includes millions of working poor families.
•It reaches key vulnerable populations – one-third of SNAP participants are in households that include senior citizens or people with disabilities; three-quarters of participants are in families with children.
•SNAP lifted 4.6 million Americans above the poverty line in 2009, including 2.1 million children and 200,000 seniors. SNAP is as effective as the Earned Income Tax Credit in lifting families above the poverty line, and far more effective than any other program in lifting families out of deep poverty.
•It relieves pressure on overwhelmed food banks, pantries, religious congregations and other emergency food providers across the country. They recognize SNAP as the cornerstone of national, state and local anti-hunger efforts, and are the first to note their inability to meet added demand that would come from weakening SNAP.
The House has passed a budget plan that would convert SNAP into a “block grant” program and cut its funding by $127 billion in the 2012-2021 period. We strongly oppose this and related proposals that would result in fundamental changes to the structure of SNAP or in slashing its funding – such as “global” spending caps and other budget mechanisms that would artificially limit spending, cap eligibility, create waiting lists, and/or sharply reduce benefits.
If enacted, such proposals would harm millions of vulnerable Americans. They would throw millions of people out of the program or reduce already inadequate benefit levels to a point that many families would run out of food as soon as halfway through the month.
Such proposals would also harm the food industry, American agriculture, and food retailers. They would cost jobs. They would weaken SNAP’s effectiveness by eliminating performance standards that have produced high levels of program integrity and that require states to respond quickly to hungry families’ need. They would roll back a generation of progress in this nation against very deep hunger. They would destroy a bipartisan compact that for two generations has developed and sustained a strong and effective national nutrition safety net. They would reduce nutritional quality for poor families even while our nation struggles with problems of obesity and resulting health costs.
At a time when our nation, despite its economic problems, remains the wealthiest on earth, fundamentally weakening SNAP in such ways is unacceptable. Congress and the President have many better choices to address budget problems, including ensuring a balanced approach that considers revenues in addition to spending and that focuses spending reductions on programs and policies that are lower priority or less effective, instead of weakening programs like SNAP that have proven to be both desperately needed and highly effective. Our nation’s nutrition safety net must remain strong so it can continue to aid those in need.
We call on you to oppose any proposals that would weaken SNAP’s structure or cut its funding. We urge you instead to speak out in Congress and to your constituents about the problems of hunger, poverty and poor nutrition in our country, the need to address them, the importance of SNAP and other federal nutrition programs in doing so, and the injustice and damage that weakening SNAP would cause.