The Board of Trustees of the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) voted unanimously in their recent meeting to express concern that in this, the most prosperous country in the world, proposals by congress to further reduce food security for our most vulnerable citizens must be reconsidered.
Seminary president, James E. Brenneman, said, “We believe Jesus meant what he said when he warned leaders of his time, “I was hungry and you did not give me something to eat. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”
Today, one in six people in America face hunger on a daily basis. Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, exists in every county in the United States. More than 18 million households are food insecure bringing to 49 million Americans struggling to put food on the table. In the U.S., hunger is closely associated with poverty, even among those families with full-time working parents.
The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (HR 2) – the Farm Bill – proposes to cut $8.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, a member of the ABSW board, made note: “If one considers the $11 billion already cut to SNAP families with the expiration of the stimulus bill funds in November, these further cuts seem especially harsh.” The primary recipients of SNAP have always been children, the disabled, and the elderly. And for the vast majority of those who are able bodied, this program has always been a bridge between survival and a better future. It has been a supplement to the working poor, the overwhelming majority of whom are white.
We recognize that it is the task of congress to oversee and allocate tax-payer dollars wisely. We believe, whether in giving aid to the hungry or further tax cuts and subsidies to those of us who are well-fed, the choice is clear. Any further cuts to the SNAP allocation seem arbitrary and cruel given the disproportionate effect those cuts have on hungry families. We implore congress to preserve SNAP’s full funding on behalf of the working-and-hungry poor.