Second Harvest Community Food Bank Blog
Why is the Farm Bill Important?
Second Harvest Community Food Bank was pleased to learn last week that food insecurity has slightly decreased in our 19 county service area. We are serving more than 15,000 members of our community each week, through the amazing work of more than 100 Partner Agencies and our nine direct service programs facilitated by our Programs team. There is still much work to be done; more than 51,000 people in our community are in need of food assistance.
Second Harvest is on the front lines of the issue of hunger and sees the impact of a struggling economy. Nationally, people seeking food assistance from the Feeding America network has increased 46 percent from 2006 to 2010. At Second Harvest, our distribution has increased by 60 percent in the last three years. Until jobs and opportunity are restored in our country, we must all agree that everyone in our community has access to food.
Here are three reasons the Farm Bill is important:
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program, otherwise known as TEFAP. Twenty-two percent of the food Second Harvest receives comes directly from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through TEFAP. With rising food prices and the cost of fuel, Second Harvest relies on TEFAP to support the communities we serve. TEFAP product is distributed through our Partner Agencies; we could not provide current levels of food assistance without TEFAP.
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program, otherwise known as CSFP or Senior Boxes. More than 775 seniors, 60 and older receive supplemental food through this program each month in our communities. We currently have nearly 500 seniors waiting for the opportunity to receive CSFP. Without CSFP, we would not be able to serve the seniors we do today.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP or food stamps. In the Senate legislation there is a proposed $4 billion in cuts, the House version has $21 billion in cuts to SNAP. These are lost meals that food banks CANNOT make up. SNAP works for families as our nation’s economy recovers. It’s important to remember that the millions of Americans, who receive assistance through SNAP, are eligible for it. For a family of three, that means making less than $25,000 annually. As Americans return to full-time employment SNAP enrollment will decrease.
Nourishing our community is a partnership between public and private support. We must have strong charitable organizations and strong federal programs. The proposed SNAP cuts (8 billion meals) are equivalent to the Feeding America network closing down for 2.5 years. This is unacceptable.
Please take this opportunity to reach out to your Senator and Representative and tell them that you support protecting and strengthening the federal hunger relief programs. Help us send a message to Congress by joining our National Call-in Day. This is a critical opportunity to demonstrate strong support for TEFAP and SNAP and protect programs that help put food on the table for Americans struggling with hunger.
Calling Congress is easy. Here’s how:
- Call our toll-free hotline at 866-527-1087
- Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted. Once you are connected to your Representative, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from. Be sure to give the name of the food bank or local agency you are affiliated with.
- Let them know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver this important message:
- As your constituent, I am asking you to vote against the House Farm Bill due to the cuts to SNAP. With so many families still struggling to put food on the table, it is important to protect and strengthen programs like SNAP and TEFAP. I understand the need to reduce the deficit, but increasing hunger is not the way to do it.
- Spread the word by sharing with your local networks and on social media.
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