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Advocates: Farm Bill Avoids SNAP Cuts but Still Falls Short

The average SNAP benefit now equals $1.36 per meal. (photo: USDA)
The average SNAP benefit now equals $1.36 per meal. (photo: USDA)
December 17, 2018

NEW YORK – The Farm Bill passed by Congress last week did not include major cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but food security advocates say the bill falls short of meeting nutritional needs.

The House version of the Farm Bill had included new work requirements for SNAP benefits and would have redirected $1 billion to a job-training program, measures opponents said would have forced millions to lose benefits.

While those provisions were left out of the five-year authorization that won bipartisan approval, Joel Berg, CEO of the hunger relief organization Hunger Free America, doesn't think the final bill is cause for celebration.

"As long as there are 40 million Americans living in homes that can't afford enough food, far greater than before the start of the recession, I don't think it's a great victory that we did nothing to actually reduce hunger in America," he states.

Despite his disappointment, Berg is gratified that cuts were excluded from the bill and is calling on President Donald Trump to sign it.

Berg points out that, at current levels, the average SNAP benefit is just $1.36 per meal, too low to provide adequate nutrition.

"That level of food insecurity has devasting impacts on our country because hungry children don't learn, hungry seniors don't survive independently, and hungry workers can't work effectively," he stresses.

Berg adds that the United States is the only industrialized Western nation with such high levels of hunger.

With Democrats taking control of the House in the coming year, Berg hopes lawmakers will introduce measures that go beyond avoiding cuts to nutrition programs.

"Most immediately, we hope they pass a child nutrition reauthorization bill that actually makes all school meals and summer meals and after-school snacks universal regardless of family income," he stresses.

Berg says ending hunger in America will benefit everyone by reducing health care expenditures, helping children learn and improving worker productivity.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY