Letter, Opinion

Proposed fed. budget would be a serious setback in the fight against hunger

Dear Editor,

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget proposed by the Trump administration would be devastating for the 48 million Americans who face hunger. In Vermont, this would have serious implications on the food security of the 1 in 4 people in our state who turn to the Vermont Foodbank for assistance each year.

The budget proposes significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP is the largest federal nutrition program, providing food to millions of Americans and 85,000 Vermonters each year. This program is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger and is an effective means of ensuring improved diet, health and productivity for those in our community facing hunger.

The budget would cut SNAP by $193 billion over 10 years and makes numerous harmful policy changes to achieve those cuts. It also makes cuts to other nutrition programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The Vermont Foodbank relies on food provided by TEFAP to meet the needs to the 153,000 Vermonters who face hunger in our state.

While the Vermont Foodbank works tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance to families at risk of hunger, the problem is simply too big to fix without national government programs that are proven to lift people out of hunger. The proposed cuts to SNAP and TEFAP would increase the demand on the charitable food system drastically and it is already stretched to meet the need. The charitable food system now provides 4 percent of the meals to the food insecure, with 96 percent coming from government sources. Charities are not positioned to raise the billions of dollars necessary to fill the gap that these cuts would leave.

“The proposed budget poses a serious threat to the health of our communities,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “If a budget is a moral document, this one is amoral. We cannot stand by and let the progress Vermont has made toward building a vibrant state for all be undercut. It is critical that we all take this opportunity to raise our voices and let our leaders know about the impact that this would have on our communities.”

For more information visit www.vtfoodbank.org.

Nicole Whalen on behalf of the Vermont Foodbank

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