WHEAT is committed to ensuring a strong and effective national nutrition safety net for vulnerable, low-income individuals and families. With a united voice, we reflect on the hunger problem in America and its solutions as we work with the new Administration and Congress on solutions to the problem.
There are 42 million people in this country — 13 million of them children and over 5 million of them seniors — living in households struggling with hunger. This problem would be far, far worse if not for the nation’s successful and cost-effective anti-hunger programs:
• the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps);
• the National School Breakfast and School Lunch programs;
• the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that provides nutritious meals for children in child
care, Head Start, and afterschool programs and shelters;
• the Summer Meals programs;
• the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
• The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides commodities to food banks;
• the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; and
• nutrition programs for the elderly (e.g., the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and
congregate and home-delivered meals).
Together, these federal nutrition programs reduce hunger and poverty, improve health and learning, increase productivity, create jobs, and invest in the future of our communities. These programs help all Americans in every state including seniors, children, people with disabilities, veterans, military families, and low-paid workers, unemployed and underemployed adults.
In particular, SNAP, as our nation’s first line of defense against hunger, has the broadest reach.
It is structured to respond effectively to need as a result of economic downturns, natural disasters, and other causes.
We call on the Administration and the Congress to recommit our nation to one of its most important and widely agreed-upon beliefs, one that has deep and long-standing bipartisan support: nobody in this country should go hungry.
Specifically, we call on you to protect and defend the federal nutrition programs from block grants and structural changes; to fully fund these programs and defend them from budget cuts, taking steps to ensure all people in our country have access to the nutrition they need to live healthy and productive lives.
We stand ready to work with the President and Congress to achieve this goal.
A Budget to End Hunger by 2030
The federal budget provides Congress and the president with the single biggest opportunity to shape our country’s priorities.
The choices our government makes regarding how it generates revenue and how it spends shared resources should promote hope, opportunity, and economic security for all people, especially those struggling to put food on the table.
We must tell Congress to make funding decisions in 2017 that put our country and the world on track to ending hunger by 2030.
Congress Must Make Funding Decisions That End Hunger by 2030
In 2017, we are raising our collective voice to ask Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track to end hunger by 2030. Your messages to Congress will push legislators to make funding decisions that put us on track to end hunger by 2030 and will support vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs and policies.
The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 and 2018 includes deep cuts to international and domestic programs that serve poor and hungry people. The White House has sent Congress a list of programs to cut or eliminate. Among the cuts are proposals to:
- Eliminate funding for the McGovern-Dole food program, which feeds children in some of the world’s poorest countries
- Cut millions from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides energy assistance to millions of America’s poorest families
If passed, this budget would make it nearly impossible to end hunger and extreme poverty. You can make an impact. Tell Congress to reject these cuts.
Nutrition in the United States
Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.
Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.
Now is the time to renew these national nutrition programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 in January. This bill renews child nutrition programs and includes a number of good first steps to give children at risk of hunger access to healthy meals.
This legislation includes many of provisions Bread supports. For example, the bill proposes to:
- streamline summer and after-school meal programs
- allow some states to provide summer EBT (electronic benefits transfer) for a limited number of children
- allow some states to provide alternative summer meal deliveries under particular circumstances
In May, the House Education and Workforce Committee passed H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. As written, the bill makes harmful changes that could deny tens of thousands of eligible children access to nutritious meals. The bill would make it harder for children to access free school meals and includes a proposal to fund school meal programs through block grants to states. This would effectively cap and cut funding for school breakfast and lunch programs. It also fails to address the summer hunger gap. Read more about H.R. 5003.
We must continue to urge Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that improves and strengthens child nutrition programs. As the child nutrition reauthorization process moves forward, take a few minutes to write letters to your members of Congress.
In this important time of action on child nutrition programs, Congress needs to hear from people across the country that it should invest in children now.
Congress has an opportunity to give more children at risk of hunger access to the healthy food they need. But there are challenges in doing so.
There are new members and new leaders with little to no experience with child hunger or child nutrition programs. These members of Congress must be educated on the importance of feeding children.
Additionally, the tight national budget and political climate make it harder to talk about programs that require more funding.
Still, Congress must act to give children at risk of hunger access to healthy meals. For every 6 low-income children receiving school lunches, only about half also get school breakfasts, and only 1 also gets meals during the summer. Too many children lack access to feeding programs or find it difficult to participate.
In your email, tell them –
Reject Budget Cuts that Increase Hunger
The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2017 and 2018 budget proposals include deep and disproportionate cuts to critical anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. I am deeply opposed to such proposals that, if passed, would increase hunger and poverty around the world and in the U.S.
Right now, 20 million people are at risk of starvation due to famine, and near-famine conditions, in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. U.S. foreign assistance funding, which represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget, means the difference between life and death for these people. But beyond saving countless lives, our own nation’s security is benefited by alleviating suffering and decreasing poverty to create a more stable and prosperous world. These programs are critical to U.S. leadership in the world.
In the U.S., 1 in 8 families struggles to put food on the table. Cuts to programs that address economic development in struggling communities or provide energy assistance to some of America’s poorest families will increase hunger and hardship.
As Congress works on the 2017 and 2018 budget and spending bills, I urge you to reject cuts to lifesaving programs.
[City, State ZIP]
Thanks to our partners at Bread for the World for this important information on Writing to Congress to save important anti-hunger programs.