Food and nutrition are becoming increasingly hot topics in our conversations. We obsess about new diets, new restaurants, reality and shows and more. Yet for many Virginians, their biggest concerns about food are access and affordability. This week the US Senate will debate the 2012 Farm Bill which sets the budget and priorities for nutrition programs. Help ensure that approximately 400,000 children in Virginia are not forced to face hunger by encouraging Senators Warner and Webb to support the Gillibrand amendment to the Farm Bill. Please contact the Senate Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking to be connected to Senator Warner’s and Senator Webb’s offices.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has helped provide a safety net for families with increasingly tight budgets. The SNAP program serves individuals living in households with net earnings below the poverty line and provides financial assistance to pay specifically for food. Children especially benefit from this assistance as nearly half of all SNAP recipients are under 18. This USDA program not only helps children and families, but has been shown by Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy to have a return of $1.73 for every dollar spent by supporting the economic engine of farmers, suppliers and grocers.
Virginians have come to increasingly rely on SNAP since the recession. According to data from the Virginia Department of Social Services, when the recession began in August 2008, 562,781 Virginians received assistance yet by March 2012, 914,709 Virginians were receiving SNAP, a 63% increase. Currently around 12% of Virginia’s population receives nutrition assistance through SNAP averaging out to $273 per household each month in money towards food.
As Congress has considered budget proposals over the last few months, SNAP has been a common point of contention. Although differences in the House and Senate’s versions of the budgets most likely will not be hashed out until after the November elections, the Senate will debate proposed cuts to SNAP this week and has the opportunity to restore some of the proposed cuts before negotiations commence later this year. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has introduced an amendment to restore the $4.5 billion cut to SNAP that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would reduce benefits to households by $90 each month. Sen. Gillibrand’s amendment makes up for these cuts by reducing the amount of government subsidies to crop insurance companies.Read More Blog Posts