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Lawmakers & Clergy Decry Immoral Food Stamp Cuts

April 12, 2012, 4:30 am | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

"Demand Budget Justice" SignBoth lawmakers and clergy members this week weighed in on the proposed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cuts included in Rep. Paul Ryan’s draconian GOP budget proposal. Despite SNAP’s proven ability to prevent hunger and lift families from poverty, the program remains on the chopping block.

While it may be difficult to picture the true effects of a ten-year, $134 billion cut to food assistance programs, it isn’t hard to imagine the dangerous consequences of a  family of four losing  $90 a month in SNAP benefits.

Writing as both a lawmaker and a Catholic, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) detailed why Congress has a moral obligation to maintain SNAP funding. From The Hill’s Congress Blog:

 For one, as a Catholic, I have always believed we have a moral obligation to alleviate suffering and hunger.  In the words of Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food.” In the deeds of Christ, who brought plenty in the midst of want with the miracle of loaves and fishes. Preventing our fellow citizens from starving and suffering the effects of malnutrition is a basic component of what good government does.

Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Abby Leibman of Mazon also weighed in on the effectiveness  of SNAP in a Jewish Telegraphic Agency Op-Ed:

Exemplary among government programs, SNAP has a nearly unparalleled record of program integrity and a historically low improper payment rate of just 3.8 percent. This means more than 96 percent of SNAP benefits are accurately and appropriately delivered to those who are eligible to receive them.

For this highly targeted group of people, SNAP is nothing short of a lifesaver that spares them from having to choose between food and other necessities such as rent, utilities and health care.

A program, then, that saves lives so effectively deserves to have its story told with facts, not distorted narrative. Contrary to what some would have you believe, for the vast majority of the 46 million Americans currently on SNAP (over half of whom are children or seniors), the program serves not as a permanent handout from the government but a temporary bridge to get past hard times. On average, SNAP recipients transition off the program in nine months — receiving benefits just long enough to find a new job or get back on their feet.

While Congress continues to argue over whether millionaires should pay their fair share in taxes, vulnerable children and families continue to pay the highest price for these immoral budget priorities.

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