This year, committees in Washington have been quietly deliberating legislation that affects all Americans in the most fundamental of ways: the food we eat. This year, the Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in the House and Senate, and deep cuts may be proposed to the nutrition-assistance programs under its umbrella.
The Farm Bill includes funding for TEFAP, SNAP, and CSFP, programs that assist hundreds of thousands in our region. Though Feeding America West Michigan receives the majority of its food from donors, TEFAP foods, which are distributed by the federal government, accounted for 15.5% of the product we received in 2011. The food bank does not receive food through SNAP (formerly “food stamps”), but many of the people we serve depend on this program to feed for their families. In February 2012, the State of Michigan alone recorded over 1.8 million SNAP recipients. Assistance through CSFP provides new and expectant mothers, young children, and the elderly with nutritious foods like green beans, orange juice, and rice.
Simply put, reducing funding for these programs would make the battle against hunger tougher for us and for the families we serve.
The House Agriculture Committee holds its final Farm Bill hearing on April 20, and the Senate committee has already concluded its hearings. Neither committee has written its version of the bill, and that means you still have time to voice your opinion.
If you live in Michigan and would like to speak out about this important legislation, contact Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate committee in charge of the Farm Bill. We especially encourage you to contact your representatives as they return home on April 2 for Easter recess.
This is critical legislation for the food-insecure in our communities. Let your voice be heard.