Americans must demand real change to end hunger
To the Editor:
Congress should strengthen, not weaken, SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as food stamps).
Tens of millions of Americans are hungry, forced to turn to emergency food programs, and food stamps (SNAP) to feed their families.
The House Republican leadership’s response is to attack SNAP.
The Hunger Action Network of New York State believes the solution to hunger is to repair the economy and create living wage jobs.
The House Republicans’ first effort to cut SNAP was to make it harder for the working poor, such as those with child-care costs, to get help. The D.C. political establishment was stunned when the uproar was so great the House rejected the farm bill.
The Republican leadership’s response was to strip SNAP out of the farm bill. They now want to further cut SNAP by penalizing those unable to find a job.
Instead, why doesn’t the House provide a job with a paycheck to all those who want one? This would be similar to the public works program that Franklin Delano Roosevelt put in place during the Great Depression.
The Great Recession of 2007 allegedly ended three years ago — but unemployment remains at very high levels. Most new jobs pay poverty level wages.
In the last 30 years rich have gotten richer while everyone else’s income either stagnated or declined. The richest 1 percent of New York State residents now gets 35 percent of the income. The last time we saw such great economic disparity was right before the Great Depression. When working people don’t make enough money, consumer demand is too low and the economy collapses.
It is also a mistake to try to separate feeding hungry Americans from the farm bill. The farm bill should be about creating sound food policy for the country, one that supports family farmers, promotes healthy food, ends hunger, and protects the environment.
Instead, the farm bill enriches agribusiness and wealthy speculators. It promotes an unhealthy food diet for all Americans by subsidizing overly processed foods high in sugar (corn syrup) and fats (soy).
It costs tens of billions of dollars to deal with resulting health problems like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It supports massive factory farms that grow only one crop, which is bad for the soil and leads to high levels of water pollution from fertilizers, pesticides and concentrated animal waste. It contributes to world hunger.
The fight over the farm bill highlights all that is wrong with Congress. It is time for Americans to demand real change that ends hunger and lifts up all Americans from family farmers and food workers to senior citizens and children.
Mark A. Dunlea
Executive Director, Hunger Action Network of NYS