September is Hunger Action Month – a month where people all over America stand together to take action on the hunger crisis and dedicate ourselves to a solution. Your voice matters and is urgently needed in forging a solution to this crisis.
Like the very air we breathe, without food a person cannot thrive. Yet this vital right is being threatened. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is a lifeline for millions of Americans and 3.1 million people across the country could lose nutrition assistance through changes in SNAP eligibility. Not one person, not a child, youth, adult or senior should have to endure hunger. This is non-negotiable.
The Federal Register is taking public comment on proposed changes in SNAP until Sept. 23. Please take the time to offer your public comment and state your opposition to this proposed change at bit.ly/2K5PdT2.
What is at stake? Imagine being a widowed and disabled veteran living with insulin dependent diabetes on a fixed income and having to make the hard decision of paying for rent, medication or food. Envision being a single mother who survived domestic violence with two children under five years old. You have been laid off from a good paying job and now work two minimum wage jobs that barely pay enough to cover rent, daycare, and the cost of bus passes. Picture being a second-year student at the University of Arizona. A parent's recent hospitalization has forced you to quickly rethink how to pay for books, housing, and meals. For many of the neighbors we serve everyday at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, this is reality.
Our neighbors are seniors, people living with a disability, veterans, working families, children and college students. Maybe these stories remind you of someone in your family or perhaps this story is similar to yours.
This administration’s $2 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest in the country are greater than the cost of the entire SNAP program cost for one year; the proposed changes in SNAP place the sacrosanct right of access to food at risk.
We must strongly oppose the current effort to changes in eligibility. SNAP helps put food on the table for so many people. The recommended changes would restrict state flexibility, include an asset test and use a higher income test to determine worthiness for food benefits. Owning a vehicle or a home or having meager savings would reduce the amount of food assistance a person can receive. Essentially, this negatively impacts children, the working poor, seniors, and those living with disabilities by eliminating any ability for social mobility. This will further increase food insecurity, not reduce it.
As children, families, seniors and college students are cut from their food benefit, where will they go? Food banks, pantries and the like will be overwhelmed. Charitable institutions cannot possibly accommodate this need. We can do better than this.
Help create a healthy, hungry-free community and consider making a public comment at the Federal Register.
(Molina is civic engagement and policy manager at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.)