There’s a lot of debate in Washington these days about the need to cut the federal budget to reduce the deficit. One of the items targeted by Republicans is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known here as 3SquaresVT) in the Farm bill. But cutting funding for this program is a classic example of being penny wise and pound foolish.
The number of Vermonters struggling with hunger has finally started to level off after a decade of steady increase. According to new data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its annual report on food insecurity, 12.8 percent of Vermont households do not have consistent access to enough nutritious food -- about 1 in 8 households, down from 13.8 percent last year.
Vermonters who continue to be out of work or underemployed due to the recession may have been buffered from hunger by participating in 3SquaresVT, which provides them with more money for food. But if the cuts in SNAP that have been proposed by the House Agriculture Committee are voted into law, many Vermonters will lose this important food resource.
The most vulnerable citizens depend on this nutrition program. The average SNAP household has an income of only 57 percent of the poverty level, and 84 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with children, the elderly and or those with disabilities, according to Hunger Free Vermont.
Seniors and children are especially vulnerable to the
As Marissa Parisi, executive director of Hunger Free Vermont, said: "SNAP is doing its job in Vermont, reducing hunger and stimulating the economy. Cutting the program now would be an injustice as well as bad economic sense. Now is the time for Congress to strengthen SNAP, to protect children and seniors from the devastating effects of hunger."
We couldn’t agree more.