IN Food Banks Question Congress' Inactivity on Farm Bill
Monday, August 28, 2023
The Farm Bill is federal legislation governing many nutrition, agriculture and rural development programs, and as the clock ticks down toward its expiration at the end of September, there are rumblings the new Farm Bill will not be done in time.
Much of the funding, up for renewal every five years, goes toward SNAP benefits for low-income Americans.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, is concerned about the amount allocated for SNAP, and for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which helps food banks and pantries keep shelves stocked.
"Together, these programs help bridge the gap for millions of families and individuals who are facing hunger across the country," Weikert Bryant explained.
She believes recent changes in Congress and other facets of the federal budget have pushed Farm Bill 2023 to the back burner. Others have pointed to party-line differences in areas like climate change, and work requirements for SNAP benefits. The bill is expected to total about $1.5 trillion, spent over the next five years.
In the meantime, cost-of-living increases, supply chain shortages and fewer donations to food banks all affect Hoosiers who need help to stretch their family budgets.
Carmen Cumberland, president and CEO of Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne, said she is hopeful the House and Senate can resolve their differences and begin a draft of the measure.
"What we would like to see is our congressional leaders to reauthorize and increase what food banks are getting in food purchases, because of the numbers we're seeing," Cumberland noted.
Cumberland described another emerging group in need of services, identified with the acronym "ALICE," which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. They are individuals doing everything they can to get by, working multiple low-wage jobs, with no time to wait for Congress.
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