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Food for Thought on SNAP Decision?

June 29, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A number of New Mexico organizations are among 2,500 across the nation which are petitioning Congress in the wake of a House vote to cut funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 20 percent.

Kathy Komoll, director of the New Mexico Association of Food Banks, says those cuts to the program once known as food stamps would drive more people to charitable programs already stretched to the limit.

"We have trouble meeting the need as it is, and frequently there are times of the year or times of the month where some people have to be turned away. Further taxing that emergency food system could have a catastrophic impact in some communities."

More than one in five New Mexicans uses the SNAP program, giving New Mexico the nation's second-highest usage rate, according to an analysis by Capitol Report New Mexico.

The House debate on the cuts included charges that the government program has grown out of control and can't be sustained. Even though SNAP is government-run, counters Ellen Vollinger, legal director for the Food Research and Action Center, its private-sector partnerships deliver services effectively.

"It 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."

The House debate on the cuts included charges that the government program has grown out of control and can't be sustained. Even though SNAP is government-run, counters Ellen Vollinger, legal director for the Food Research and Action Center, its private-sector partnerships deliver services effectively.

"It 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, she says, have identified SNAP as a public program which returns the biggest bang for the buck, generating almost $2 in local economic activity for every federal dollar spent.

The letter to Congress, and a list of organizations that signed it, are online at frac.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - NM