The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development urged the U.S. House of Representatives not to accept a proposed $40 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, called the program “one of the most effective and important federal programs to combat hunger in the nation.”
In a letter Wednesday, the bishop said, “SNAP helps relieve pressure on overwhelmed parishes, charities, food banks, pantries and other emergency food providers across the country that could not begin to meet the need for food assistance if SNAP eligibility or benefits were reduced.”
“The faith community and the private sector are vital in the fight to combat hunger,” he continued. “But government has an indispensable role in safeguarding and promoting the common good of all. This includes ensuring that poor and hungry people have access to adequate and nutritious food.”
Bishop Blaire said how the House chooses to address hunger and nutrition programs has “profound moral consequences” and that, in an economy in which 4 million people have been unemployed for over six months, and in which millions more have stopped looking for work altogether, “SNAP remains an essential tool to help struggling individuals and families avoid hunger and stay out of poverty.”
Bishop Blaire called proposals to eliminate SNAP access for people who have committed certain crimes at some point in their lives “counterproductive and an affront to human dignity.” He also urged that states should retain the flexibility they currently have to respond to local needs and economic conditions.
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On the Net:
The full text of Bishop Blaire’s letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/agriculture-nutrition-rural-issues/upload/lettter-to-house-on-snap-nutrition-bill-2013-09-11.pdf