The US Congress is debating the new farm bill this week, and this means talking about SNAP. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (the old food stamps) is one of the foundations of our safety net, and the biggest line item on the farm bill.
The SNAP program is facing significant cuts. The bill on the House of Representatives cuts $20 billion out of the program; the one in the Senate $4 billion. To show the impact of these cuts Senator Chris Murphy has decided to highlight the hardships that SNAP recipients face every day, taking on the SNAP challenge.
What is the SNAP challenge? For this past week the Senator has spent for food only $4,80 a day, the average benefit amount for SNAP recipients in the state of Connecticut. He has been tracking his experience on his Facebook page and Twitter accounts, and his accounts are quite interesting. He shared what he learned these days at a round table in the Connecticut Food Bank on East Haven. Some of his comments today: he really is hungry all the time, has lost six pounds in a week and has relied on ramen and bananas for most of his meals. On today´s meeting he stressed on how buying any kind of healthy food for $4,80 is pretty much impossible.
The main take away, however, goes beyond the SNAP challenge - it is the fact that the SNAP program is crucial for many, many families, it is probably underfunded as it is, and even so Congress will probably reduce the benefit if no one gets on the way. It is time to call our legislators again, and tell them that many, many people in the state and across the country can not even make ends meet with the SNAP program as it is. We can not cut it more.