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Convince Gianforte to oppose harmful cuts to SNAP in House Farm Bill

 

April 26, 2018



The Montana Food Bank Network is extremely disappointed that the House Agriculture Committee made no changes to Chairman Conaway’s harmful restrictions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in his Farm Bill (H.R. 2). They advanced the bill closer to a full House vote, despite projections that millions will lose SNAP benefits with the proposed punitive barriers. Because SNAP helps 121,000 Montanans keep food on the table and provides food assistance to 1 in 5 Montana children, MFBN remains steadfastly opposed to the bill. Food pantries and soup kitchens do not have the capacity or resources to make up for the loss of federal food assistance. We ask Congressman Gianforte to oppose H.R. 2 and to take a stand for Montanans facing hard times.

MFBN’s opposition stems from the following points, which will exacerbate hunger and hardship for Montanans.

The House Farm Bill creates new punitive mandates and time limit to SNAP benefits for Montana parents and older workers. Under current law, SNAP participants age 18 to 49 who are not raising dependents are cut off from benefits after three months in a 36-month period, unless they work at least 20 hours a week. Unfortunately, H.R. 2 reduces this period to one month and expands the requirements to parents with children as young as 7 years old and workers up to age 60. For our comments on how these new SNAP mandates punish Montana families and children during hard times, please visit our previous press release: https://mfbn.org/2018/04/response/.

Private charities cannot support the millions of Americans who will lose SNAP benefits. The House Farm Bill would cause more than 2 million low-income people — particularly low-income working families with children — to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced. The bill’s supporters must assume private charities, like food banks and soup kitchens, would make up for lost federal food assistance. However, food bank systems cannot match the purchasing power SNAP provides. For example, SNAP provides 12 meals for every 1 meal that Feeding America’s food bank network provides. In 2017 alone, food pantries in the MFBN network provided food to over 244,000 individual households. If each household represented a single individual, then 1 in 5 Montanans visited our network in 2017. Unfortunately, our network does not have the capacity to meet the need of thousands of more Montanan families who may lose SNAP benefits, which means more people in our community would go hungry.

Montana cannot meet the House Farm Bill’s requirement guaranteeing work slots for SNAP recipients who cannot find jobs. This bill forces states to establish new large, untested bureaucracies to create job programs and track participants. Although the bill provides funding for states to expand these programs, the amount to meet the millions of new recipients subjected to work requirements leaves states with just $30 per month for each recipient. Currently, Montana has a work training program only in three counties: Missoula, Yellowstone, and Lewis & Clark. However, unlike other states, Montana has many isolated rural areas, which were impacted most when 19 public assistance offices closed due to state budget cuts. Montana does not have the infrastructure or funding to implement House Farm Bill’s mandate.

H.R. 2 would take away revenue SNAP provides to Montana retailers, producers and local economies. In 2017, SNAP contributed $172 million to the Montana economy, and over 760 retailers in Montana accepted SNAP. For every dollar spent through SNAP, $1.70 in economic activity is generated. By restricting access to SNAP, Montana will lose out on SNAP’s power to spur local economies. SNAP spending is the economic boost that actually creates jobs in Montana, not the House Farm Bill’s underfunded job slot programs.

In conclusion, MFBN opposes the House Farm Bill because we know that these changes will not help people find work. Instead the bill will take food away from people when they need it most, and actually make it harder for them to find a job. Due to state budget cuts, Montana is already struggling to provide basic assistance. Yet, this bill will only create a new burden for our state, requiring it to expand job programs exponentially, while also reducing the SNAP benefits that contribute to our economy. Please join us in urging Representative Gianforte to oppose the House Farm Bill.”

Let your voice be heard by contacting Rep. Gianforte! For his contact information and sample call and email messages you may visit our webpage here: https://mfbn.org/2018/04/tell-rep-gianforte-vote-no-on-house-farm-bill/.

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Gayle Carlson, CEO, Montana Food Bank Network

 

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