NEW BRUNSWICK – On Monday, Dec. 2, at 10:30 a.m., Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. visited Elijah’s Promise in New Brunswick decrying cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) on the heels of House Republicans’ latest effort to limit the program. In September, Republican leadership in the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to cut roughly $39 billion from the SNAP program over the next decade.
Pallone was joined by New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, Lisanne Finston, Executive Director, Elijah’s Promise and Adele LaTourette, Director, New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition.
“In the wealthiest country in the world, it is unacceptable to allow our children and families to go hungry,” said Pallone (D-NJ-06). “SNAP is our nation’s most important anti-hunger safety net program and is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs, with one of the lowest – if not the lowest – rates of fraud, waste and abuse. The Republicans’ never ending effort to dismantle this program is cruel and does not reflect our values as a nation.”
“New Brunswick works in partnership with its residents on a mission to lead a healthy lifestyle, and it is critical to the overall health of a community to ensure that all its residents have access to nutritious and affordable foods,” Cahill said. “Instead of building a sustainable and just food system that provides the hungry and less fortunate with access to fresh, quality food – because all people should have access to good food – the additional $39 billion cut in SNAP funding is contrary all that a caring nation should stand for.”
“Freedom from hunger needs to be an inalienable right of every American and it should be incumbent upon the federal government to support programs for millions in our nation who are struggling to meet their basic needs, especially in tough economic times. The $39 billion in cuts come at an especially difficult time for New Jersey, where we have experienced a sharp increase in poverty in the past few years with more than 2 million, or 25 percent of our state’s population reported to be living in poverty, according to a report released in September. I support Congressman Pallone and House Democrats in calling for a proposal to eliminate the GOP cuts to SNAP. It is the right thing to do and is in keeping with our principles as a humane society and a responsible government,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset\Middlesex).
According to the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, 394,240 children in New Jersey were living in food insecure households in 2011. More than 15% of Americans, including 22% of all American children, live in poverty. SNAP provides a basic nutrition benefit to many low-income Americans, including senior citizens and children, and has largely eliminated severe hunger and malnutrition in the United States. The Republican effort to further cut SNAP would mean more Americans, including children, will go hungry and malnourished, and an influx of pressure would be put on our community soup kitchens. The $39 billion in SNAP cuts would come on top of $5 billion in across-the-board SNAP benefit reductions that already went into effect on Nov. 1 due to an expiring provision included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had provided a modest boost in SNAP benefits. Pallone and House Democrats are pushing for a proposal to eliminate the GOP cuts to SNAP as the House and Senate work on a compromise version of the Farm Bill, which funds the program.
Conservatives took issue with the lawmakers’ comments.
“Congressman Pallone and Chivukula decry the cuts to SNAP but what they don’t want people to know is that spending on food stamps has exploded to a staggering $78 billion under the President Obama—double what it was when he took office,” said Daryn Iwicki, state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity. ”And 47 million people—1 out of every 7 Americans—are now being seduced into relying on food stamps and a destructive state of dependency.”
The greatest increase in the number of people relying on SNAP benefits came following the “Great Recession.” In 2007, 26 million people relied on the program. That number increased to 28 million in 2008, 33 million in 2009, 40 million in 2010, and 45 million in 2011.
Elijah’s Promise is a community soup kitchen, culinary arts school, catering business, and pay-as-you-can café that connects low-income individuals and families with social and health services. Elijah’s Promise serves 100,000 meals per year and trains previously unskilled workers for careers in the food service industry.
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