To rejoice or recoil…that’s the question

August 4, 2010 § 5 Comments

by Wendy Heiges, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy

REJOICE.  The Senate is ready to move the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill forward.

QUESTION.  How should they pay for this legislation?

RECOIL.  By using SNAP benefits for low-income people, families and children.

We often write about the importance of SNAP (food stamp) benefits for low-income people who struggle with hunger and our local business communities (for every $5 of SNAP benefits spent, $9 are generated).  For many of us, SNAP wins our hearts and minds: it helps people at risk of hunger, and it simply makes sense – especially during a terrible economic downturn.

If you are someone like me who believes SNAP benefits belong exclusively to the people who need them, and you’re following legislation in the U.S. Senate, you’ve probably had a bad day too.  This morning, the Senate passed a bill using almost $12 billion in SNAP stimulus funds to provide assistance to states and aid for teachers.  While the choices are difficult, taking SNAP benefits away from the more than 40 million Americans struggling with hunger (and nearly half of them children) will just make a bad situation worse.

Now the Senate is prepared to move forward with an absolutely heartless proposal defying all logic.  They propose to use a further $2.4 billion of SNAP benefits to pay for Child Nutrition Reauthorization!  As a colleague aptly put it, this isn’t just robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It’s robbing Peter to feed Peter’s kids. Their proposal is particularly disturbing in its symbolism – the issue of hunger really isn’t being taken seriously and is not the priority it’s often said to be.

So, instead of rejoicing that this critical bill strengthening federal child nutrition programs is moving forward, I’m recoiling from what the Senate wants to use to offset the costs.

SNAP benefits must be protected and never used to offset the costs of any legislation – period. But the proposal to use SNAP benefits for low-income families to pay for child nutrition programs for low-income children?  Utterly bizarre.  If you find this proposal as offensive as we do, please take action by clicking here to protest the Senate’s proposal.

There will soon be opportunities for those who care about people at risk of hunger to express their opposition to SNAP cuts to the U.S. House of Representatives.  I will keep you informed.


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§ 5 Responses to To rejoice or recoil…that’s the question

  • Joshua W. Scott says:

    This is just an example of the folly involved in trying to use the government to orchestrate good works. They will always do it in a way that best suits their power, not the donors or the recipients.

  • Tiffany M. Conner says:

    I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree with the previous poster’s assessment. I can think of a few examples of government investments which have provided society with an unquantifiable reward, some of which include Pell grants, the GI Bill, paved roads, college loans, NIH grants, small business loans…there are countless ways in which government has charted a course toward addressing social ills. Is government the solution to all problems? Of course not. However, these are not normal times. We are, for better or for worse, in an election year and desperately grasping at the straws of tenuous economic recovery. Politicians (even the most presumably forward-thinking among them) will propose and posture and deprive to maintain majorities or retain votes, and sometimes this means taking from one worthwhile endeavor to feed another before the public eye. I say this with no intention of disparaging or diminishing the important work teachers do, as it my understanding that teachers are the beneficiaries of the cuts mentioned in this post. Teachers do a great service for this country, but they are also well-armed with a powerful lobbying arsenal. Where is the lobbying arm for the hungry? That I know of, equivalent to that of a teacher’s union, none exists. I hope I am wrong about this. Nevertheless, I must restate my polite disagreement: Government has been the facilitator of many a good work, but these days it seems it’s better at facilitating division, partisanship, and of course, war.

  • Joshua W. Scott says:

    Tiffany –
    I appreciate the high tone of your retort. My writing often comes out crankier than I intend it. We obviously have a philosophical difference, exposition upon which is outside the scope of this forum (it took great willpower to make this parenthetical my only mention of teacher’s unions. 🙂 ). More importantly though, we wouldn’t both be reading this blog if we didn’t have a fundamental agreement on the importance of feeding the hungry.

    From my perspective, feeding the hungry (or most any charitable endeavor) is too important to be beholden to the machinations of the central bureaucracy. The more we can orchestrate our efforts outside government intervention, the more effective (and rewarding) they will be.

  • Tiffany M. Conner says:

    If Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch could be friends and Red Sox fans can have the occasional outing with Yankees’ fans (I’ve seen it happen!), I’ve no doubt that we can endure a philosophical difference of opinion on a blog post in the name of a similarly shared moral imperative.


  • […] Most disappointing legislative failure: Use of future SNAP benefits to pay for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 […]

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