The myths that often stigmatize SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) are being used to justify funding cuts that would make it harder for struggling families to get by. Last month the house approved a budget that proposes to cut SNAP by nearly 20 percent. Working as it was designed, SNAP responded quickly and effectively to the recession. Participation in this vital program increased by 53 percent from 2007 to 2010, while unemployed people increased by 110 percent over the same period.
SNAP targets the most vulnerable households; 76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. Despite the rumors to the contrary, benefits are not overly generous. In California the average benefit is just over $4 a day. For every dollar spent on the program, $1.73 in economic activity is generated. Correspondingly, a $1 billion cut from the program results in more than 13,700 jobs lost.
For every one allegation of fraud, there are hundreds of stories of heartbreaking need. You rarely hear the stories of the dad struggling to feed his kids after his hours were cut, the mom who is trying to make it on her own after leaving an abusive husband or the grandparents trying to raise their grandchildren on a fixed income.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano we know those stories because they are the people we serve every day. We saw a 46% increase in people receiving food between 2006 and 2010. The increase in demand on nonprofits like ours would be crippling without SNAP. Our programs work with SNAP to help those struggling in our community put food on the table.
We strongly urge our nation’s leaders to protect anti-hunger programs like SNAP and make needed investments in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (another Farm Bill program that the Food Bank relies on) to protect families from hunger and help charities like ours keep up with the need ion our community.