H.R. 3102 WOULD CUT FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS BY $40 BILLION OVER 10 YEARS; STOP OVER 6 MILLION NEEDY AMERICANS, INCLUDING CHILDREN, VETERANS, SENIORS, LOW-INCOME WORKERS AND THE DISABLED FROM GETTING LIFE SAVING FOOD ASSISTANCE
Later today, Thursday, September 19, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013, which would reduce spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or “SNAP” (formerly known as Food Stamps) by $40 billion over the next 10 years. If this bill were to become law, more than 6 million Americans, including children, veterans, seniors, low-income workers and the disabled would lose their access to the SNAP program; for many, the only source of food they may have. Almost 48 million people in 23 million U.S. households currently rely on SNAP; they receive an average of $133 in food assistance each month, which is only approximately $4.43 per day.
Given that more than 46 million Americans – 16 million of them children – are living in poverty and more than 11 million Americans are currently unemployed, it seems counterproductive and almost cruel to take away such a crucial amount of assistance without guaranteeing worker training or job location assistance to struggling Americans. Furthermore, at last count more than 50 million Americans, or 1 in 6, faced hunger at some point last year. The situation is especially dire among African Americans: in 2011, more than one in four (25.1%) African American households were officially “food insecure.”
H.R. 3102 further punishes people by also including a provision to deny people convicted of a host of certain crimes from ever receiving SNAP food assistance (after they have served their sentences and regardless of how long they have been out of prison or jail) and it requires intrusive drug testing for all beneficiaries – regardless of their age (even children) or lack of any previous record of drug use. These provisions are not only in direct contrast to the spirit of rehabilitation and, in some cases, may even inspire recidivism. It also subjects many innocent Americans to privacy intrusions.
In a country as wealthy as ours, and with so many available resources, it is ironic and frankly inhumane that so many people go hungry every night. We can and should be doing more to curb this problem, not exacerbating these conditions by taking away the safety nets that currently exist for those people who find themselves without.
THE NAACP STRONGLY OPPOSES H.R. 3102.