With Senate Expected To Begin Debate Of Farm Bill, Faith-Based Organization's 45,000 Members Lobby For Food Stamp Improvements

Bread for the World
Wednesday, 28 November 2001

The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debate later this week on a comprehensive rewrite of federal agriculture and nutrition programs known as the "Farm Bill," and Bread for the World's 45,000 members are lobbying Senators to push for, and support, additional funding for the Food Stamp Program. The nutrition title passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee two weeks ago includes $6.2 billion in new funding for food stamps over ten years, but the committee narrowly rejected a better proposal by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to boost food stamp spending by $12 billion. The Lugar food stamp proposal included work incentives that would allow food stamp recipients to have a reliable car by excluding any vehicle from the calculation of household resources, the restoration of eligibility for many legal immigrants, and extended food stamp benefits for people transitioning from welfare to work.

Members of Bread for the World, a faith-based, grassroots anti-hunger advocacy organization, have been and will continue to write and call their members of Congress (advocacy efforts earlier this year by Bread for the World members to increase overseas development aid spending generated more than 150,000 letters to Congress). Bread for the World is specifically urging the Senate to provide $12 billion over 10 years, in new money, for food stamps—almost double what the committee adopted—along with more flexible and simple rules for the program, similar to provisions in the Lugar food stamp proposal.

Comment by Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World:

"The Agriculture Committee passed a commendable nutrition title, but the Senate must up the ante to fully meet the basic needs of hungry people. With the economy on the decline and hunger on the rise, the Senate needs to recognize that a strong Food Stamp Program for hungry people is now more important than ever. We urge Senators to support $12 billion in new food stamp spending, along with more flexible and simple rules, to begin turning back the rising tide of hunger in America."

A Few Facts About Hunger in America and the Food Stamp Program:

- 31 million Americans, including 12 million children, are currently hungry or on the verge of hunger (USDA).

- 23 million low-income people received emergency assistance through America's Second Harvest food bank network in 2001, a nine percent increase from 1997, when the last survey was done.

- During the last four years, food stamp participation has declined by more than 33 percent to an average monthly participation level of 17.2 million people. Ten million fewer people receive monthly food stamps now than in 1995.

- $28 billion was cut from the Food Stamp Program in 1996.

For more information, or to contact Bread for the World, see their website at: www.bread.org

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