Save nutrition assistance program
Federal deficit reduction has been a leading issue this election season, and for good reason. A balanced strategy to reduce the deficit is vital to the nationís long-term economic prosperity.
As political leaders debate this issue, some of the rhetoric has focused on cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps).
If realized, these short-sighted threats to SNAP would place the onus of deficit reduction on the most vulnerable in our community, exacerbating hunger and slowing our economic recovery.
Addressing food insecurity in the Lowcountry cannot be accomplished without community collaboration.
Every day, the Lowcountry Food Bank sees a collective effort to end hunger reflected in its partnerships with volunteers and donors, as well as a myriad of local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
We are also grateful for collaboration from Washington through important anti-hunger programs like SNAP.
The great service of our local pantries might suggest that hunger is better solved by charity, but speaking from the frontlines, I can safely say that charity cannot do it alone. In fact, estimates suggest that nonprofit and faith-based charities account for only about 6 percent of all food assistance in the United States.
Programs like SNAP are invaluable in ensuring that households have the healthy nutrition they need and reducing the choices people often must make between purchasing food and paying for rent, utility bills or other necessities.
Some insist that SNAP enrollment has grown unsustainably in the past few years, while others suggest that SNAP benefits discourage the pursuit of work or educational opportunities.
The fact is that SNAP enrollments have increased only as poverty has increased with the recent recession, and on average, households receive benefits for only nine months at a time.
Despite common misperceptions, nearly three of every four households receiving SNAP benefits in South Carolina have at least one employed adult. For families struggling with hunger, SNAP benefits are timely, targeted and temporary, and SNAP enrollment will abate as the economy improves.
Protecting the poor is not a partisan issue. Our hope is that Congress will work together to craft policies that spur economic recovery, ensure broad and sustainable opportunity and protect families when opportunity remains out of reach.
This includes making sure that SNAP and food pantries are here to put food on the table until struggling Americans are back on their feet.
President and CEO
Lowcountry Food Bank