LTE: Churches can't make up lost nutrition funding
By Jonah Talbott on May 16, 2012
© Pocono Record
Editor, the Record:
I was glad to see an article about food stamps and the WIC program in Sunday's paper. These are important programs that are indeed being targeted for budget cuts by Congress. However, the consequences of the proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were not highlighted in the article.
The House of Representatives has proposed to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP. Some members of Congress have argued that feeding the hungry is not the business of the government and that this task is primarily the work of churches.
According to the Hartford Institute for Religion and Research, there are approximately 335,000 religious congregations in the United States, big, small, and tiny. If the proposed cuts are enacted, each of these congregations would have to come up with $50,000 dedicated to feeding the hungry to make up for the shortfall. According to Bread for the World, a Christian hunger advocacy organization, each of these congregations would have to come up with $50,000 every year for the next 10 years to make up for the loss of funding. I don't know about anyone else's church, but my local church would be hard pressed to come up with that kind of cash! Churches are already responding to the increased need brought about by the Great Recession, but the burden the House would place on them is well beyond their means.
Government has a duty to provide for the common good. Private charity will not be able to meet this need. When a politician tells you that meeting the needs of the poor is the responsibility of churches, ask him/her when he/she will be writing a check for, I don't know, say $10, $20 maybe $50,000 to his/her church.