Food for Thought
Dear Senator Warren,
As a resident of Massachusetts, I urge you to fight against any incoming bills that could harm SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the millions of Americans who cannot feed themselves or their families without it. I also encourage you to continue supporting the U.S. Farm Bill that authorizes SNAP and other food and agriculture programs, and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, that authorizes core child nutrition programs. Hunger is a critical issue that has plagued our country for as long as we can remember, and this legislation provide crucial help to those who are deeply affected.
A common misconception is that hunger is restricted to only third world countries or homeless people. In fact, over 1 in 8 Americans struggle with hunger, including 13.1 million children, and 5.7 million senior citizens. Seniors who are food insecure, meaning that they do not have food steadily available for them, are 40% more likely to experience congestive heart failure. This is an issue that affects 42.2 million citizens, more people than the entire population of Canada. In Massachusetts, around 9% of households struggle to provide food for their families, with 4% having very low food security. Although I don’t personally know what it is like to feel real hunger and to need food stamps, these statistics make clear the massive number of people for whom the feeling is all too familiar.
The USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, has 15 different food and nutrition assistance programs to combat hunger. SNAP, more commonly referred to as food stamps, is the most widely known and widely used program. The program works by giving monetary benefits for people’s food shopping needs. Almost half of the households that benefit from SNAP have at least one working person, and most households need to supplement the SNAP benefits with their own money to purchase a sufficient amount of nutritional food. Through my time volunteering at a family homeless shelter this year, I have realized the importance of stable meals and eating nutritional food. These are families who are trying their hardest to get out of their situation, and worrying about the money needed to spend on food, a basic human necessity, inhibits them from making progress in their lives. Instead of making hunger an issue that holds people back, SNAP, and other programs like it, can help people spend their time and money on other concerns.
The results of the 2016 election have already had major consequences for our country, but for low-income families, the stakes are even higher. President Trump and the Republican leadership in congress have already indicated that they plan to make drastic cuts to programs vital to the American people, including SNAP. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has previously introduced dangerous proposals to change the structure of SNAP that will gut the program and its funding. With the Republican majority in congress, there is a real threat that his plan could succeed, causing even more Americans to go hungry.
As a frequent volunteer at local food pantries, homeless shelters, and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), I have seen some of the devastating effects of hunger. However, I am confident that, through acts like your generous donation to GBFB, you will continue to fight this issue in our country, and won’t let the new administration take advantage of those who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Thank you for continuing to fight for the livelihood of your residents and ensuring that your constituents receive their basic human needs.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Olsberg, Eden. "Food for Thought." 26 June 2017. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/food-for-thought>.