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Experts Emphasize Importance of SNAP Benefits in Recession

Washington, DC, February 2, 2012

A panel of economists, policy makers, and a former food stamp recipient today stressed the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) as politicians attack its relevance during the ongoing election campaign.

Safety-net programs such as SNAP have come under scrutiny as lawmakers attempt to balance the federal budget by cutting vital programs like these. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member of the House’s Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee and member of the Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Subcommittee, continues to educate her fellow lawmakers and clarify public misconceptions about SNAP.

“Just like unemployment insurance, food stamps bridge the gap to help families make ends meet,” said Congresswoman DeLauro, a longtime SNAP supporter. “As the economy improves and families get back on their feet, the costs of food stamps will decrease again. This is the entire essence of a social safety net.”

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, joined Congresswoman DeLauro, Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute, Donna Cooper of the Center for American Progress, and former food stamp recipient Tara Marks at the press conference on Capitol Hill.

“With the rise in unemployment and poverty in the past few years, food banks have seen a nearly 50 percent increase in demand. Still, we cannot ‘food bank’ our way out of hunger,” said Beckmann. “All of the combined food provided by charities in the United States amounts to only about 6 percent of the food distributed by federal programs such as SNAP. For many families, these programs decide whether there will be food on their tables during meal times.”

SNAP and other safety-net programs have kept many people from going hungry during this economic downturn. More than 46 million Americans currently participate in the program, which also benefits the U.S. economy. Every dollar in SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in economic growth in recipients’ local communities.

“Not only is hunger preventable, but it costs the U.S. economy an estimated $167 billion a year in illness, poor educational attainment, and charitable contributions,” added Beckmann. “This is where safety-net programs like SNAP make a huge impact. Lawmakers must create a circle of protection around funding for these crucial programs.”

Throughout 2012, Bread for the World and its members are urging lawmakers to protect funding for programs that support hungry and poor people. Find out more at www.bread.org/OL.

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

Media Contact:

Fito Moreno, Interim Media Relations Manager, 202-688-1138


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