Published on September 5th, 2019 | by Chelsea Kiene0
September is Hunger Action Month. Speak Out Against the Trump Administration’s Attack on Food Assistance.
A New Trump Administration Proposal Threatens to Kick 3.1 Million Americans Off Food Stamps
By Chelsea Kiene
I didn’t understand why the man kept turning down my offers for food. He was, after all, visiting the food pantry where I was volunteering to receive food.
“Would you like some milk?” I asked.
“No, thank you,” he sheepishly responded.
“Well, how about some meat?” I continued.
“That’s okay, thanks,” he politely declined.
“We also have canned goods, there’s lots to choose from,” I gently encouraged.
“Oh, you should save that for someone who will use it,” he kindly countered.
After some coaxing, the man finally revealed why he couldn’t accept the food I had been offering. He was homeless, living out of his car. Without access to a refrigerator, he couldn’t keep the milk cold. Without a stovetop, he had no way to safely cook the meat. And without a can opener, canned goods were hard to eat.
Together, with some persistence and a little ingenuity, the man and I were able to select enough items to help get him through the week — fresh produce that didn’t require refrigeration, cereal, tuna in easy-to-open pouches, and loaves of bread, among other things. But what I learned that day has stuck with me: That the challenges that arise from homelessness, hunger, and food insecurity are plentiful, making even the smallest day-to-day tasks significantly more difficult for people struggling to make ends meet.
If you’ve never experienced unrelenting hunger or have never genuinely questioned when or where you’d come upon your next meal, it’s easy to take for granted the importance of food in our quality of life. But for the 40 million Americans who are food insecure — people who don’t have consistent access to nutritious food, often due to a lack of money or other resources — accessing food that supports a healthy, active lifestyle can be a major challenge.
That’s where programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, come in. SNAP is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger and food insecurity, providing modest monthly benefits that help qualifying low-income people access nutritious food they might otherwise be unable to afford.
“But for the 40 million Americans who are food insecure… accessing food that supports a healthy, active lifestyle can be a major challenge.“
SNAP is one of America’s most effective anti-poverty tools. In 2017 alone, SNAP helped lift 3.4 million people out of poverty, including 1.5 million children. Why is SNAP so effective? Simply put, by helping struggling families put food on the table, SNAP helps to ease financial hardship. This, in turn, helps families get back on their feet, all while improving their health and overall well-being. In other words, it’s hard to afford housing, childcare, health care, pay down debt, or save for tomorrow when you’re struggling to feed yourself or your family.
Yet despite the clear benefits of SNAP, the Trump administration is trying to sidestep Congress and restrict access to this critical program.
In July, President Trump’s administration proposed a rule that threatens to kick more than 3 million people off of SNAP, including people living in households with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. To make matters worse, the administration’s plan jeopardizes free school meals for 500,000 children. Experts warn that the Trump administration’s rule could worsen hunger and food insecurity, as well as make it more difficult for states to administer food assistance to families in need.
Fortunately, there’s still time to speak out against the administration’s cruel and misguided policy. Through September 23, 2019, the Trump administration is accepting comments from the public on the proposal. If you want to speak out against the administration’s attacks on food assistance, you can submit a commit by clicking here.
September is Hunger Action Month. We can’t end hunger by ripping away food assistance from families in need. Tell the Trump administration to withdraw its proposed rule and protect SNAP.
Chelsea Kiene is the Deputy Communications Director at For Our Future Ohio. A passionate anti-hunger advocate, Chelsea has volunteered hundreds of hours at food banks, community food pantries, and meal programs in Ohio and Washington, D.C.