Anti-hunger programs, like SNAP, aid families trying to bridge the gap between something and nothing on their table. Almost 50 million Americans will rely on SNAP this year and half of all American children will depend on SNAP for a meal before age 20. Widespread food insecurity is one of the many problems we face as a nation and now is the time to protect and strengthen anti-hunger programs.
The Farm Bill, which has historically set much of U.S. food, agriculture, and anti-hunger policy, is currently making its way through Congress. The House bill would cut $39 billion and almost 4 million beneficiaries from the vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that was already cut by $5 billion on November 1, 2013.
The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and address hunger in our society. Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to protect and strengthen SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations and to reject any cuts or amendments that weaken our country’s flagship nutrition program.
Congress is currently considering legislation that will affect if and how millions of Americans keep food on the table. The Farm Bill, which sets much of U.S. food and agriculture policy, is currently being negotiated in a bicameral conference committee. The result of these negotiations will have far-ranging impacts, from foreign assistance and food safety, to environmental conservation and anti-hunger programs.
Anti-hunger programs included in the Farm Bill, like the SNAP program, help millions of individuals and families keep food on the table in spite of harsh economic conditions In April 2013, the number of people in households that receive food stamps was over 47.5 million, including 20% of all American children. SNAP was already cut by $5 billion on November 1, 2013, and further cuts will have even more damaging effects on the most vulnerable, as families with a child, senior, or person with a disability make up nearly 90% of SNAP recipients. Nonetheless, the Senate bill cuts $4 billion and the House bill cuts $39 billion from these crucial programs. There is a great and unmistakable need for anti-hunger programs, and it is our duty to ensure that Congress understands the necessity of including strong funding for SNAP in the Farm Bill.
Jewish Values and Nutrition
The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and address hunger in our society. Leviticus 23:22 tells us, "And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I the Eternal am your God." In Isaiah 58:7, God commands us to "share [our] bread with the hungry and bring the homeless into [our] house."
Our Jewish tradition further teaches us that we must fight hunger not individually, but rather by working together as a community. The Talmud explains that each Jewish community must establish a public fund to provide food for the hungry, and our sages explain that feeding the hungry is one of our most important responsibilities on earth: "When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer: ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told: ‘This is the gate of the Lord, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry’" (Midrash to Psalm 118:17).
For more information about hunger, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Howie Levine at 202.387.2800.