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Farm Bill Threatens SNAP as Emergency Food Programs Suffer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Scaglione   
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 04:55

In case the prospects of sequestration aren’t enough for you, another looming threat to services for low income Americans lies on the post-election horizon when Congress once again takes up the Farm Bill which expired on September 30th.  

Congress is threatening to cut billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), says Margarette Purvis, President/CEO of the Food Bank for New York City.  In June, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected an amendment that would have restored $4.5 billion in cuts to the SNAP program.  The amendment, which its sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said would simply have maintained SNAP programs currently in existence today, went down to a two thirds defeat – 66 to 33.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are pressing for even greater cuts to the program.
The threats to SNAP come as emergency food programs are ill equipped to make up the gap, says Purvis.  “In the past year alone, food pantries and soup kitchens across the five boroughs have lost 11 million meals due to federal cuts in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP),” she explains.  “This equates to a 40% reduction in the amount of free food available to low-income New Yorkers at a time when a number of agencies across New York City are reporting an increase in the number of visitors.”

“We’ve seen a 15% increase in the number of people coming to us,” says Stephen Grimaldi, Executive Director of the Yorkville Common Pantry.  “That’s an increase from 25,000 to 29,000 people – 4,000 additional clients.”

The impact of TEFAP cuts have been difficult to make up, says Grimaldi.   Making matters worse, other food donations are down as well.  “Two years ago, we had $1.5 million in donated food;  this past year it was $700,000.  It’s been cut by more than half,” says Grimaldi.  “We have had to work very hard to make sure that we don’t turn anyone away.  We consider that to be non-negotiable.”

Further cuts to SNAP and TEFAP will be devastating, says Purvis, who urges human services supporters to speak out.   “Our representatives have to hear from us.  We see it as our job to protect these resources.”   For more information on how to join the fight, visit www.foodbanknyc.org.

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