SNAP: ‘Our first line of defense against hunger’ 


July 10, 2024

More than 1,400 groups are asking Congress to protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of the Farm Bill. 

The groups, which include the Coalition on Human Needs, represent all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and several U.S. territories. On Tuesday, they delivered the letter to members of Congress calling for a strong and robust SNAP. 

The groups are particularly concerned with a House GOP proposal that would adjust the Thrifty Food Plan that helps determine the size of monthly SNAP benefits. The adjustment, part of a Farm Bill that has passed the House Agriculture Committee, would result in cuts of nearly $30 billion over 10 years, and every SNAP recipient would be affected. The proposal would also negatively affect Summer EBT, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program. 

“SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger,” Ellen Teller, Chief Government Affairs Officer for the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), said in a news release accompanying the letter. “Any legislative vehicle, including the Farm Bill, that presents a critical opportunity to combat food insecurity cannot move forward by weakening our key defense against hunger – we must strengthen SNAP.” 

The letter states that, “Strengthening SNAP and the commodity assistance programs ensures that the more than 41 million people who continue to rely on SNAP benefits every month to put food on the table – during a time of increased rent and health care costs – can access the nutrition they need to thrive.” 

The letter notes that SNAP has a “strong ripple effect, both on money saved in the future and on economic stimulus that happens now.” 

“Studies show that increases in SNAP benefits directly correlate to improved health outcomes and decreased visits to emergency rooms, which decreases Medicaid costs,” the letter states. “In addition to its health, nutrition, and overall improved well-being attributes, SNAP also supports local economies – each dollar in federally funded SNAP benefits generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity during a weak economy.” 

On Tuesday, FRAC hosted a news conference in which it announced the letter’s distribution to Congress (FRAC was a leader in the sign-on effort) and which featured a spokesperson of a local food bank as well as a leader of a local advocacy group. 

Colleen Young, Director of Government Affairs for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, said that last year, her group distributed more food than it ever had before, but that it comes nowhere near supplying the amount of food that SNAP supplies. For every meal that goes to her group’s recipients, she said, SNAP provides nine meals. 

“Parents tell us they’re skipping meals so that their children can eat,” she said. 

Maricella Garcia, Race Equity Director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said her state has the highest rate of childhood hunger in the nation – roughly 25 percent of children experience food insecurity, and Black and Latino households are disproportionately affected. 

She said 74 percent of households with one or more children receives SNAP, along with 41 percent of households that include an elderly or disabled person. She said Arkansas families benefited greatly from additional SNAP benefits that were allocated during the pandemic. 

“But those payments are gone,” she said. 

With leaders in the House and Senate outlining their Farm Bill priorities, CHN and our members are raising their voices to protect and strengthen SNAP – and thousands of advocates are sharing why they care about SNAP directly with their own members of Congress.