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Congressional committee passes $8.6-billion cut to food assistance program

January 28, 2014

Prominent anti-hunger organizations call on Oregon’s federal delegation to vote against the final bill.

PORTLAND, Ore. (January 28, 2014) – A congressional farm bill conference committee has passed a bill that includes a draconian $8.6-billion cut to federal food assistance. The cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) comes on the heels of an $11-billion reduction in the program that went into effect on November 1, 2013.

“Oregon Food Bank opposes the farm bill because of the inclusion of the deep cut to SNAP food benefits that will lead to increased hunger in Oregon and across our country,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank CEO. “We are deeply disappointed in this bill and we urge Oregon’s congressional members to vote against it when it comes up for further votes.

”SNAP helps at-risk populations. Programs like SNAP are designed to make sure hungry children are ready to learn in school and families hit by the recession have enough to eat until they get back on their feet. “The farm bill’s deep cuts to SNAP will inflict serious financial and social costs on Oregon communities. These cuts will mean less food for nearly 100,000 people in our state,” said Patti Whitney-Wise, Executive Director of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “We urge members of our congressional delegation to vote against the farm bill.”

“SNAP is both a crucial social investment and smart economic strategy. SNAP has brought in more than one billion federal dollars to local grocers, retailers and farmers markets, and it's critical in helping people be productive and contribute to the economy. SNAP is the first line of defense for preventing hunger among Oregon’s most vulnerable populations,” said Whitney-Wise. “We know that Oregonians are healthier and do better when they have enough to eat. Additional cuts to SNAP will force struggling families to make very difficult decisions; limiting the amount of food they eat, skipping meals, compromising their health by choosing cheap, but unhealthy, foods.”

“It is unconscionable that Congress is proposing more cuts to SNAP at a time of record-level need for emergency food assistance,” states Morgan. “While we recognize the bill includes financial assistance for rural Oregon counties, this is a huge step backwards in the fight against hunger.”

The emergency food bank network is already stretched to capacity, distributing more than one million emergency food boxes annually in Oregon and southwest Washington. According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, if Congress passes the conference bill, about 78,000 Oregon households would have benefits reduced by an average of $58 per month. To try to make up for the cuts, the Oregon Food Bank Network would have to distribute an additional 25.2 million pounds of food – a 30 percent increase in food distribution – clearly an impossible goal to achieve through charitable donations.

The proposed SNAP cut would have an outsized effect on people living in poverty and struggling against hunger. It would also have a dramatic economic impact in Oregon due to the loss of these federal dollars in our state economy. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Oregon Food Bank oppose passage of the farm bill because of the economic impact the loss of these federal dollars will have in our state, and the impact to low income populations that have already taken the brunt of the economic downturn. We urge citizens to contact their congressional members and urge them to vote no on the 2014 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.

About Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon is a nonprofit organization that envisions an Oregon where everyone is healthy and thriving, with access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food. To bring that vision into reality, the organization raises awareness about hunger, connects people to nutrition programs, and advocates for systemic changes that end hunger before it begins. PHFO provides critical leadership to address hunger through the 5-year plan, Ending Hunger Before it Begins: Oregon’s Call to Action.

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Pat Kaczmarek
Marketing and Communications Manager
Oregon Food Bank

Elizabeth Seaberry
Communications Manager
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon
(m) 202-352-6599

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