Legislative update: Congress made difficult choices today. Hungry people make them every day.

August 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

by Wendy Heiges, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy

This afternoon, Congress voted to provide funding for Medicaid and save the jobs of public school teachers, government employees and emergency workers.  At the same time, Congress voted against the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).

Congress used nearly $12 billion in future SNAP benefits to pay for the legislation – a huge blow to 40 million low-income people throughout the country who depend on SNAP to meet their nutritional requirements.

It’s a huge blow to Texas, a state in which one in five households report not having enough money to buy the food they needed at some point last year.

It’s a huge blow to the Capital Area Food Bank which provides emergency food assistance to about 48,000 people in Central Texas each week.

I understand that Congress had to make difficult choices.  Anemic state budgets are hurting social services and programs.  We need more public school teachers, not fewer.

People at risk of hunger make difficult choices too.  Try choosing between food and utilities, food and medicine, food and mortgage.  These choices are truly agonizing.

Is the genie out of the bottle?  Let’s hope not.  We have to make sure the SNAP benefits are not used to offset the costs of reauthorizing critical federal nutrition programs for low-income children.  The House must not consider the Senate Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill taking a further $2.4 billion of funding away from low-income people at risk of hunger to feed their low-income children at risk of hunger.

In this case, the genie must stay in a bottle placed in a safe within an impermeable vault – locked, and with no key.

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