Each year both the House and the Senate generally take what’s known as the “August recess” — a chance to spend some time on vacation or back in their home state or district. Unfortunately, this year Congress will be leaving Washington with an important piece of unfinished business.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is historically funded through the Farm Bill. Every 5 years, Congress must negotiate changes to things like agricultural subsidies and funding for SNAP. For 40 years, SNAP and agriculture programs have been reauthorized side-by-side.
SNAP serves as an important buffer against childhood hunger. We know that there are long-term impacts of hunger on children’s health and education. SNAP helps working parents bridge the gap when their budget doesn’t stretch far enough to pay for housing, child care, health care, transportation AND food. The majority of families rely on SNAP temporarily while they work to get back on their feet.
In 2012, about 80,000 Nebraska kids were protected from hunger by SNAP.
In spite of the important role that SNAP plays in reducing child hunger, Congress has been unable to pass a farm bill this year. The Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill in early June. The bill contained cuts to SNAP, but not nearly to the level that were proposed in the House version of the bill.
After failing at attempts to pass the entire Farm Bill, the House took the unprecedented step of taking SNAP out of the Farm Bill and passing a bill in mid-July that funds only agricultural subsidies.
As our Congressional Delegation prepares to leave Washington for the August recess, we hope that they will be thinking of the 80,000+ Nebraska kids who rely on SNAP to make sure that they don’t go hungry. And we hope they will return to work in September ready to roll up their sleeves and pass a Farm Bill that protects SNAP and the important role it plays in addressing child hunger.