Catholic Charities joined elected officials, religious leaders and advocates at St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan today to urge U.S. senators to vote against the harsh cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The U.S. House Farm Bill would slash SNAP funding by $9 billion – in addition to $5 billion in SNAP cuts that went into effect on November 1st.
“The people standing here today fear greatly for what may be in store,” Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbors Director Jeanne McGettigan told the crowd. “The system is already strained to the limit. It isn’t designed to bear this type of burden.”
Catholic Charities food banks served 48% more meals in December 2013 compared with one year earlier. Hungry families, children and the elderly are trudging to food banks and pantries even on the coldest days, including January 7 when temperatures dropped into the single digits and New York officials urged everyone to stay home.
SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. More than half of SNAP recipients are children, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. Meanwhile, low-wage workers who do not earn enough to afford sufficient food for their families make up an increasing number of SNAP recipients.
During this extended period of high unemployment, SNAP has helped millions of families afford the food they need. It also supports our economy at every link in the food chain, from the farmer to the consumer. Cutting SNAP puts jobs at risk in communities throughout New York.
Since the across-the-board cuts in SNAP took effect in November 2013, we have seen alarming levels of need created when benefits are reduced. The new U.S. Farm Bill cuts will take away hundreds of millions of meals from struggling households and individuals.
Catholic Charities and others that make up the last line of defense against hunger – including food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens – cannot fill in such a gap.
“There can never be enough grants and food drives to fill this gaping need,” Ms. McGettigan said.
If you want to voice your opposition to these devastating cuts, contact the office of Senator Chuck Schumer and urge him to vote against the farm bill.