Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Federal food program is an urgent need for many families

By Lorin Cope on June 22, 2013
© St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which issues food stamps to needy families, are already being felt in the St. Louis area. Now the House of Representatives is considering a further cut of $20 billion this year as part of the proposed farm bill.

Joint Neighborhood Ministries operates a food pantry in south St. Louis three days a week. The number of people receiving food increased 13 percent from March to May, reflecting the sequester budget cuts in food stamps. The number of requests have already jumped again in June, reflecting the furlough of unemployment benefits imposed the first week. (Similar furloughs — simply no check, regardless of the jobless person’s status that week — are planned for July and September).

Statistics from Bread for the World indicate that the proposed farm bill cuts would kick 2 million people off the SNAP program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without free school meals.

More than 1 million Missourians rely on food stamps to feed their families. In addition, the program provides sales to retail grocers who administer the program. Taking this amount of money out of the local economy is bad for everyone. But for children in low-income families, it could be life-threatening.

We call on Congress to heed the call of Scripture to feed the hungry. Do not “balance the budget” on the lives and livelihoods of the needy.

Lorin Cope  •  St. Louis

President, Joint Neighborhood Ministry

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