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Federal Cuts Would Impact Local Families

By John Lynds on August 14, 2013
© East Boston Times-Free Press

U.S. House Republicans are proposing to cut a crucial program that helps hundreds of families in East Boston buy food and fend off hunger throughout the year.

Republicans are drafting a farm bill to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In Eastie the SNAP program supports low-income families and allows them to purchase healthy quality food from places like the annual East Boston Farmers Market. This proposed cut comes one year after Republicans tried to cut $20 billion from the program last year.

Over the years SNAP has partnered with numerous Eastie nonprofits like Project Bread, East Boston APAC, the East Boston YMCA and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to ensure families and children in the neighborhood do not go hungry.

Nationally the cut Republicans are proposing would kick 2 million people out of the program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without school meals nationally.

The proposed cuts were strongly opposed here in Eastie by programs like Eastie based Project Bread—the nonprofit that runs the annual Walk for Hunger.

“Project Bread is strongly opposed to any cuts to SNAP in any further Congressional deliberations. Our federal nutrition programs reduce food insecurity, thereby increasing nutrition, reducing health problems (and health costs) associated with hunger and improving academic achievement,” said Project Bread’s Program Director Sarah Cluggish. “Investing in federal nutrition programs now is an investment in our future and we cannot afford to let the most vulnerable populations in our state – children, the elderly and the disabled – down.”

Cluggish added that agencies like Project Bread must stand with low-income families and affirm their dignity, their right to choice, and a healthy life.

“Simply put, this is a matter of moral conscience,” said Cluggish. “But all of us must agree that we have to act in a way that shortens the line – and creating barriers to SNAP is the opposite of that.”

Reverend David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said last year’s proposed $20 billion cut was equivalent to eliminating half of all the charitable food distribution by churches and food banks over a 10-year period. He called the current legislation that doubles last year’s cut “cruel” and “unacceptable”.

“Bread for the World is deeply distressed by the $40 billion cut to SNAP proposed in the House,” said Rev. Beckman. “We know the suffering and crises that poor families face every day, even in a recovering economy. This cut would substantially increase the suffering of 47 million Americans who depend on SNAP to keep hunger at bay.”

He added that when the House SNAP bill comes to a vote in September he, along with many people of good will and faith, will be there to tell Congress that we must maintain a circle of protection around programs focused on hungry people.

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