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Food Stamp cuts hit Oregon veterans experiencing hunger

November 11, 2013
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Stimulus funding that ended November 1 harms nearly 40,000 veterans in Oregon receiving assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (November 7, 2013) – As Veteran’s Day approaches, Oregon Food Bank is alarmed by the impact that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts will have on the well-being of the more than 37,000 veterans in Oregon that receive SNAP benefits. Congress passed stimulus funding that included an increase in SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) that ended on November 1. As a result, all recipients – including hundreds of thousands of veterans nationwide – are experiencing an unprecedented cut in benefits.

“SNAP helps at-risk populations, such as veterans, afford healthy and nutritious food for themselves and their families,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank CEO. “It’s unacceptable that citizens who have courageously served our country are experiencing a reduction in food assistance. Oregonians can help local veterans in need by calling their members of Congress to urge them to oppose further SNAP cuts.”

These cuts are even more concerning because according to Oregon Food Bank, Oregon’s veterans are disproportionally affected by hunger. While 11 percent of Oregon’s population is veterans, 20 percent of the households to which Oregon Book Bank Network supplied emergency food boxes in 2012 have at least one veteran.

“Many veterans are very proud and have a lot of dignity, and it’s hard for us to access help until things are coming completely apart,” explains Mike, a veteran from Ontario, Ore., who participated in an Oregon Food Bank focus group. “Getting veterans access to resources prior to that point is really helpful.”

On November 1 monthly benefits were cut for all SNAP recipients. Over the next year, that cut will mean the loss of an estimated $4.1 million in benefits for Oregon veterans who rely on SNAP – leading to the loss of more than 1.6 million meals, according to the national food bank association, Feeding America.

These SNAP cuts make it even more difficult for veterans and their families to access adequate nutrition and increase the trade-offs between food and other household necessities.

“We should salute the service of our veterans and provide them the help they need,” Morgan said. “Instead, Congress is considering even deeper cuts to SNAP. The Oregon Food Bank Network simply cannot make up for the significant number of lost meals current proposals would cause.”
Both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the farm bill; the Senate calls for a $4-billion SNAP cut and the House proposes $40 billion. Currently, a congressional committee including Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader is reconciling the two versions of the farm bill.

About Oregon Food Bank
With sufficient public will and support of the entire community, we believe it is possible to eliminate hunger and its root causes. Oregon Food Bank collects and distributes food through a network of four Oregon Food Bank branches and 17 independent regional food banks serving Oregon and southwest Washington. The Oregon Food Bank Network helps nearly 1 in 5 households fend off hunger. Oregon Food Bank also leads statewide efforts to increase resources for hungry families and to eliminate the root causes of hunger through advocacy, nutrition education, garden education, and helping communities strengthen local food systems.

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