Friday, September 20, 2013

Cleaver: Hunger is not a game

(In his latest EC from DC report, Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver strongly disagrees with the House's so called "Nutrition Reform."

This week I spoke out, again, on the House Floor to fight for food. I am sickened and saddened by this professed “Nutrition Reform” bill that the House voted on and passed. I voted against the bill.

This is not nutrition “reform”. And hunger is most certainly not a game. This shouldn’t be a talking point or a messaging strategy.

For more than 3 decades, farm and food policy has had bipartisan support. There was a strong alliance between urban and rural interests. Farmers and consumers have an unavoidable, symbiotic relationship. Those that produce the food also rely on those who consume it. Yet, in one fell swoop, the House has disregarded decades of this symbiotic relationship. And I strongly believe a disastrous impact will result.

  • 1 in 7 families (almost 48 million people) faces food insecurity. They are uncertain as to when and from where their next meal will come.
  • 8 million of those people are children.
  • This action will deny food assistance to thousands of children, many of whom already show up to school hungry each and every day.
  • Many of the schools in Missouri’s Fifth District – both rural and urban – have more than 50% participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. This bill jeopardizes school meals for almost 200,000 children because their eligibility for free and/or reduced school meals is tied to their receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. How can we take away a family’s SNAP benefits, along with school breakfast and lunch?
  • I have met with dozens of representatives from food banks, faith and community organizations, and others, on this issue. They are extremely concerned about the record numbers of folks they are seeing who need food assistance. And they simply aren’t equipped to handle the massive wave of people they will see if SNAP benefits are taken away.
  • In Missouri, 1 in 5 children don’t have dependable access to nutritious food.
  • In July of this year, more than 145,000 residents of Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties in Missouri’s Fifth District received SNAP support.
  • This is an issue that knows no boundaries. For instance, Saline County had 15% of households receiving SNAP benefits, while Jackson County had 12.8%. Hunger doesn’t choose between rural and urban.
  • Cutting SNAP benefits hurts our Veterans. About 900,000 veterans get SNAP benefits each month. This is no way to treat those who have sacrificed for our country.
It is ironic that the House has taken this action this month. September is Hunger Action Month. And I believe cutting billions from the SNAP program is the antithesis of what we should be doing to fight hunger. It is a sad day – and I believe we can do so much better.

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