Letter to the Editor: Food Assistance
By Glen Bengson on April 16, 2013
© The Columbus Dispatch
The Saturday April 6 editorial, "Food needs more thought," raises important issues of nutritional concern for our nation's youth and schools. We should be at least equally concerned that many youth have limited access to food of any kind, and that the recent sequester cuts and budget proposals will be devastating to the millions of families forced to rely on our government safety net programs for basic sustenance.
Nearly 50 million families depend on these programs, yet bills in Congress, like S.458, propose cutting food stamps (SNAP) by 36 billion dollars. A family of four receives on average $16 per week from SNAP, hardly enough to live on, forcing community, church and other volunteer efforts to supplement them. The WIC program, crucial for nutritional help to pregnant and nursing mothers and young children will be cut to eliminate 500,000 children, 18,000 in Ohio alone.
Government programs are essential to providing food security to people already hungry and on the edge of severe malnutrition. If we envision all the food assistance given- private, governmental and the rest, as contained in 24 grocery bags, our governmental share equals 23 of those bags. Only one is from private (church, individual, charities) sources. We are short-sighted economically, not to mention morally, when we cut back on such essential services for our most vulnerable citizens. And these food-providing services account for very little of the federal budget. They will hardly make a dent in deficit reduction, but will produce dangerous deficits in children's ability to grow, to learn, to live a healthy life, and contribute to the nation's welfare.
As a citizen, a Christian, and a member of Bread for the World,I urge others to write or call their governmental representatives and ask that these cuts to food assistance, whether in place now or projected for the future, be halted, and our policies reflect a more humane and intelligent approach to the needs of our citizens and our nation.
Thank you for your consideration and action.
Glen Bengson, Powell