13 May 2013

I’ve written about childhood hunger before but I always am amazed when I see the statistics about how widespread it is in the U.S. And now, the farm bill in Congress threatens to make the problem even greater. 

In a way that must have made sense at some point, food stamps fall under the Agricultural Department, so in an effort to cut overall costs, it looks like the politicians are going to take a hatchet to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the food stamp program, instead of cutting farm subsidies as part of Farm Bill 2013. 

According to a Reuters story, enrollment in food stamps has doubled since 2003 with those who want to slash the program saying the threshold for who qualifies needs to be changed (maybe you need to be starving a lot instead of just a little?), while those who want to leave food stamps alone place the blame on the continuing economic distress.

But you don’t have to be on either side of the aisle to really understand that the farm lobbies have far more power than those lobbying for people on food stamps (though the farming coalitions are often fractured depending upon which crops you support). In the most draconian scenario, $36 billion--or nearly half-- of the food stamp program would be cut over the next decade. Opponents to cuts are suggesting a much more modest $4 million in cuts over 10 years (although one Representative has suggested no cuts at all, but it’s hard to imagine that getting enough support)

So the question is really only one of how many more hungry children will we have because that number is going to go up. How many more hungry children are we willing to say is an acceptable number in this “exceptional” country of ours? 

According to a Department of Agriculture study,  more than 1 in 3 single mothers has trouble feeding her children.  Women and children go hungry more than men in this country. Depending upon where you fall on the political spectrum, you can place blame wherever it suits you, but it’s the innocent children who will end up with empty bellies.

Today’s $10 goes to RESULTS, an organization that lobbies to end poverty domestically and globally, as well as supports programs that address the root cause of poverty. RESULTS has organized a call in on May 14 to Congress to suggest that there be no cuts to SNAP as part of Farm Bill 2013.


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