Federal Cuts to Food Assistance to Increase Hunger in PA Even As Farmers Markets Access Expands – PA Headlines 2/6 Counterpoint PA 8/25-31/2013
A new report co-released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Just Harvest, and the Coalition Against Hunger shows that a major cut in the federal food assistance program set to take effect this November will take food off the plates of nearly 2 million people in Pennsylvania, about half of whom are children.
According to a press release about the report, â€śThe cut, which takes effect in November, is the result of an expiring provision included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that temporarily boosted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship in the wake of the recession. (SNAP is the program formerly known as food stamps.) â€¦ The across-the-board cuts scheduled for November will reduce the program by $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 alone, including $183 million in Pennsylvania. Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income families. For a family of three, the cut will likely mean a reduction of $29 a month â€” $319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal. This cut will be the equivalent of taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four or 16 meals for a family of three.â€ť
This policy change is made even more inhumane because many of these families just started to be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables with their food assistance.
Just Harvest, one of the co-authors of this report, started a program called Fresh Access in May of this year that allows food assistance to be used at farmers markets, and itâ€™s rapidly expanding.
So just as some families in need were finally able to not just buy food but actually keep themselves well-nourished, theyâ€™re going to suddenly find themselves unable to do either. A sad, sad reflection of how our state and national politics fail to properly prioritize keeping our fellow human beings from starving.