BY KATHERINE KELLY
With the expiration of the 2009 economic stimulus, on November 1st the SNAP benefit program (food stamps) was cut by $5 billion. In California, the cuts will reduce SNAP spending by $457 million. There are plans by the Republican led House to further decimate this life-saving program by cutting another $39 billion over the next 10 years.
Food pantries are stretched to the limit and can’t keep up with demand since the November cuts. More people are showing up at their doors to fill the gap left by the SNAP cuts to the point where they are running out of supplies before the month is over.
With a record 47 million people in this country depending on these benefits to stay alive, one has to wonder, what’s going to happen to them? Should we just turn a blind eye and let Congress destroy such a large swath of our population? Should the poor just go away and die quietly?
If left alone, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that as the economy improves the dependence on SNAP will reduce by 14 million, with no further policy changes or drastic cuts. Why not focus on improving the economy instead of pulling away the safety net while so many are still falling? With only one job for every three applicants, a jobs stimulus would help, as well as raising the minimum wage since many who depend on SNAP are working low-wage jobs.
And our priorities need to be realigned. SNAP is part of the Farm Bill. Instead of sending those large subsidy checks to billionaire landowners whether they farm or not, perhaps we should stop subsidizing the rich and start paying more attention to feeding the hungry. People often retort they don’t want their tax dollars to support those nasty free-loaders who get food stamps, the majority of which are children, the disabled and the elderly, yet they don’t scream bloody murder about our tax dollars going to subsidize billionaires.