Forum: Budget would deprive many in Connecticut, US access to food – New Haven Register
At the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare, we believe that no person should go hungry. President Trump’s proposed budget for FY 2018 threatens our ability to make that basic value a reality, with devastating cuts to programs that help provide basic food access – and hope for a brighter tomorrow – for 42 million Americans.
Among the recommendations is an unprecedented 25 percent cut, amounting to $193 billion over 10 years, to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). These proposed cuts to SNAP represent at least 45 billion fewer meals for hungry Americans over 10 years – meals for children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and other adults. These reductions to SNAP would have a significant impact on this essential program that serves more than 424,000 of our Connecticut neighbors, including 154,000 Connecticut children.
The average monthly benefit for a Connecticut SNAP participant in FY 2016 was $132. That money for groceries can make the difference between a person being able to eat and still have money for bus fare or gasoline to get to work, or to pay for a prescription medication. Those are tough decisions to make, especially in a state like Connecticut where the cost of living is high and the average monthly housing cost is approximately $1,100.
More than 38 percent of Connecticut SNAP recipients are in working families — they simply don’t earn enough money to make ends meet. SNAP also provides critical support to our neighbors who have fallen on hard times in this challenging economy, including people like this Connecticut mother of two:
“When my former employer downsized me out of a job, my husband’s salary just wasn’t enough to cover all of the expenses for the household and most importantly – our children. My family turned to the federal safety net we know as SNAP and it helped keep food on our table for a short but difficult six months. It was a blessing to have the SNAP program until we were able to get back on track.”
The ripple effect of these cuts extends well beyond the health and security of our low income neighbors. These cuts would have a significant impact on our economy, as residents have less to spend in grocery stores, or must divert their other limited resources from spending on transportation or other goods. According to Moody’s Analytics, each $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates an additional $1.70 in economic activity. This means that the $686 million in SNAP benefits issued in Connecticut in 2016 had an estimated additional economic impact of $1.17 billion.
It should not be assumed that our food bank system and the private charitable response could replace the vital support the proposed cuts to SNAP and other federal nutrition programs would remove from those facing hunger. With these cuts, America’s 200 food banks and their network of 50,000 food pantries will see the lines of people seeking help grow exponentially longer – at a time when most food banks, including ours in Connecticut, are already hard-pressed to keep up with the current need.
For more than three decades, our country has had in place a public-private partnership between government and community food banks to create a nutrition safety net. The president’s proposed cuts break that partnership, placing an untenable burden on food banks while depriving millions of hungry Americans with food for their basic needs.
We strongly encourage all who care about the well-being of their Connecticut neighbors and the health of our nation to oppose these cuts. Please let your U.S. senators and representatives know that this elimination of vital government nutrition support is wrong for America.
Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare are Connecticut’s two regional food banks. Both are members of the national Feeding America network. Connecticut Food Bank serves Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, and Windham Counties. Foodshare serves Hartford and Tolland Counties. For more information, visit www.ctfoodbank.org/ and www.foodshare.org
Bernie Beaudreau is CEO of Connecticut Food Bank and Jack Hackendorn, is interim CEO of Foodshare.