Two weeks ago, I wrote about the health impacts that income inequality has on poorer Americans. The congressional witnesses at that hearing specifically noted that children who are hungry have long-term health impacts, including higher risks of learning disabilities, anemia, asthma and higher rates of hospitalization. Twenty percent of households with children in the US don’t have enough to eat.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s best anti-hunger program. SNAP benefits helped 47 million people afford food last year and 72% of SNAP participants are in families with children. However, at the beginning of November of this year, Congress allowed the Recovery Act’s boost to the program to expire- cutting $5 billion from the program. As I wrote then, the cut to a three person family was the equivalent of losing 15 meals a month.
Two days ago, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) proposed cutting another $8 to $9 billion from the program to get a deal on the budget with the House Agriculture Committee Chair.
The cuts today will have repercussions to the economic security of today’s children and tomorrow’s workers for decades. The health impacts will negatively affect how well the future workers can hold full time jobs and the heightened learning disabilities will keep the future workers from the educations they need to get ahead. We should not balance the budget on the backs of hungry children.