Congress has been debating a farm bill in Washington to extend farm subsidies, price supports, federal funding for crop insurance and foreign food aid. But the bill that passed the Senate also includes draconian cuts to SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – usually called food stamps. The Senate version would cost $955 billion over 10 years, but cuts SNAP by $4.1 billion.
The House version is much worse: it doesn't reauthorize SNAP at all, leading to the very real prospect of no food stamps program.
SNAP currently serves more than 45 million Americans, many of them children, in nutritionally unstable families. One in five New York City residents, people living below the federal poverty level, is eligible for SNAP assistance, including about 30% of all kids under 18. SNAP puts food on the table for hungry families, providing a chance at a nutritional and balanced diet. Studies in New York City indicate every $1 in “food stamps” creates $1.80 in local economic activity, and creates jobs and profits for local grocery stores, bodegas and farmers’ markets.
City Council General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma and Speaker Christine Quinn, along with 46 other New York City Council members, wrote Congress opposing any SNAP reduction. In fact, they requested an increase in SNAP. The Council members wrote SNAP cuts “will have a devastating impact on New York City residents, forcing them to rely on emergency food programs that are already stretched beyond the capacity.”
About 1.9 million New Yorkers receive SNAP benefits providing more than 10 million meals a month. SNAP benefits are based on $1.50 per meal or $31.50 a week. Cuts will take millions of meals out of the mouths of hungry New Yorkers, 80% of them women or children. These missing meals would be a health and well-being catastrophe.
City Council members signing the letter defending SNAP, in addition to Palma and Quinn, included Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Charles Barron, Gail Brewer, Fernando Cabrera, Margaret Chin, Leroy Comrie, Elizabeth Crowley, Inez Dickens, Daniel Dromm, Mathieu Eugene, Julissa Ferreras, Lewis Fidler, Helen Foster, Daniel Garodnick, James Gennaro, Vincent Gentile, Sara Gonzalez, David, Greenfield, Dan Halloran, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, Andy King, Peter Koo, Oliver Koppell, Karen Koslowitz, Brad Lander, Jessica Lappin, Stephen Levin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Erik Martin-Dilan, Darlene Mealy, Rosie Mendez, Michael Nelson, Dominic Recchia, Diana Reyna, Donovan Richards, Joel Rivera, Ydanis Rodriguez, Deborah Rose, Eric Ulrich, James Vacca, Jimmy Van Bramer, Albert Vann, Mark Weprin, Jumaane Williams and Ruben Wills.