Pennsauken, NJ, November 16, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Food Bank of South Jersey and dozens of other state and local hunger-relief agencies in New Jersey joined more than 1300 charities across the country in urging Congress to protect and strengthen anti-hunger programs in the farm bill.
The letter comes as all SNAP participants have just received a benefit cut, food banks are struggling to keep up with increased need in their communities, and Congress is considering even deeper cuts to SNAP in the farm bill. The letter calls on conferees to support at least the House funding increase of $300 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from funding cuts and harmful policy changes.
"With unemployment still at 8.5% in New Jersey and all SNAP households having just received a cut to their monthly food benefits on November 1, it is inconceivable that Congress would make additional cuts to hunger-relief. Yet SNAP is on the chopping block again, as Congress writes the farm bill, putting our most vulnerable neighbors at risk and further increasing demand on hunger-relief charities,” said Valerie Traore, CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, which serves Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties.
“Our food bank and area agencies are already stretched thin trying to meet need in the community. We have experienced declines in federal commodity food support through TEFAP, making it harder to keep up with existing need resulting from the weak economy and recent SNAP cuts, not to mention increased need that would definitely occur if SNAP were cut again in the farm bill,” Traore said. “We need more supply, not more demand and certainly not more cuts to such crucial services at such a difficult time.”
Traore went on to say, “New Jersey’s unemployment rate is 1.2% higher than the national, and this year we have met 639,904 individual requests for food. With the upcoming winter, we expect this number to soar.”
The House farm bill legislation would cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP, the nation’s frontline federal nutrition program, compared to a roughly $4 billion cut in the Senate bill. The differences between the two bills are being worked out by a conference committee, and Food Bank of South Jersey is urging conferees to reverse course and protect SNAP from cuts and their constituents from going hungry.
“We understand the importance of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order, but hunger-relief should not be part of budget cutting conversations,” Ms. Traore continued. “SNAP spending will decrease on its own as the economy improves and struggling people get back to work. Furthermore, this is a highly efficient program effectively targeted at the most vulnerable Americans. It is working exactly as designed to respond to increased need in the wake of the recession.”
About the Food Bank of South Jersey
The Food Bank of South Jersey is the leader in providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey. We distribute food, provide nutrition education and cooking courses, and help people find sustainable ways to improve their lives. To learn more about our important work, please visit www.foodbanksj.org