In response to "Too Many Hungry People" (Letters, June 28, 2012), we wholeheartedly concur with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and applaud Sens. Kerry and Brown in voting down harmful amendments to our nation's most important anti-hunger program. For four decades in our country, one of the federal government programs that has continuously received strong and consistent bipartisan support and was deemed "a government reform that worked" by the National Journal is SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formerly known as "food stamps").
However, we also share the Food Bank's concern that the Senate body abandoned this historic bipartisan support in adopting a $4.5 billion SNAP benefits cut in the final version of the Senate Farm Bill. There is no question that this cut, if implemented, will have a severe and harmful impact on thousands of Massachusetts residents.
In the Commonwealth, preventing hunger is not a partisan issue, and our Massachusetts Congressional delegation should be applauded and encouraged to continue to fight against cuts to SNAP. They understand that in today's economic climate, SNAP is more important than ever. They understand that SNAP reaches key vulnerable populations: three-quarters of participants are in families with children and one-quarter are senior citizens or people with disabilities. In the richest nation in the world, no one—no child living in a struggling family trying to make ends meet, no senior or disabled citizen living on a fixed income—should go to bed hungry.
We are also fortunate that our federal delegation recognizes that, in addition to the obvious importance of SNAP in fighting hunger and lifting people out of poverty, this program bolsters local economies. Estimates issued by Moody's Analytics and others of the economic growth impact of SNAP during an economic downturn range from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all the spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.
SNAP is an effective program that responds to the economic uncertainties triggered by a weakened economy, lifts people out of poverty, encourages economic growth, and creates jobs. It should be supported. The Massachusetts Congressional Delegation should hold strong and fight against any and all cuts to anti-hunger programs.
Georgia Katsoulomitis, Executive Director
Patricia Baker, Senior Policy Analyst
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston