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MA Organizations Tell Congress: “Don’t Starve SNAP”

June 20, 2011

BOSTON - Close to 60 organizations in Massachusetts are serving up a petition to Congress about food stamps. More than 400,000 depend on food stamps to help feed their families each month in Massachusetts. The U.S. House has voted to cut its funding by about 20 percent, as well as change the program, called SNAP, to a block-grant structure.

Ellen Vollinger, legal director with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), says block grants come with pre-set funding limits and a loss of flexibility to respond to needs during rough economic times and natural disasters - something she says SNAP does very well now.

"The food stamp program is the nation's first defense against hunger. It's very important to about 44 million people across the country."

During House debates on the cuts came charges that the program was a form of government that had grown out of control and could not be sustained. Vollinger points out that even though the food stamp program is government-run, its effectiveness comes through partnerships with the private sector.

"SNAP uses regular retail outlets. Government hasn't had to set up its own set of government stores or government-operated trucking. It's very efficient, in the sense of being able to partner with the regular retailer community."

Many economists have identified SNAP as a public program that returns the biggest bang for the buck, she adds, generating almost two dollars in local activity for every federal dollar spent.

Vollinger says nearly 80 percent of Massachusetts SNAP recipients are households with children and the rest are mostly senior citizens and people with disabilities. Religious, mental health, senior and children's organizations in Massachusetts are among those that have signed the petition.

A listing of all organizations that have signed the petition is available at http://frac.org/pdf/snap_blockgrant_letter_june2011.pdf.


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA