There is never a good time for this kind of cuts, but this is absolutely the worst time, said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Yet, to hear House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) speak is to think that he and his fellow Republicans were practically saving the nation. House Republicans are working to restore the integrity of this safety-net program and protect it for those who need it most, a spokeswoman for Cantor said Wednesday. As if the economic crisis and the lack of jobs had never existed, Cantor assumes that millions of food stamps recipients do not need them or are gaming the system. This despite Agriculture Department data showing that SNAP has lower fraud rates than the agricultural subsidies to millionaires that Cantor and his fellow Republicans voted to increase even more two months ago. For all their supposed trickery, SNAP recipients get approximately $1.40 per person per meal, hardly enough to buy the most basic food items. This vote is a tragic, heartless, and economically counter-productive departure from Americas bipartisan history of fighting hunger. It will dramatically increase hunger for millions and destroy jobs in the food industry, Berg said. A study released in March by the Center for American Progress agrees with Berg. It found that for every $1 billion cut from SNAP, 13,718 jobs are lost. You make the calculations. Fortunately, this despicable measure has little chance of advancing in the Senate and, even if it does, President Obama has promised to veto it.
“As hunger increases, the demand for our food also increases,” says Page Crosland, Capital Area Food Bank’s communications director. Last year, the food bank fed close to 500,000 people, distributing 45 million pounds of food. Half of it was fresh produce. “We put a big emphasis on nutritious fruits and vegetables,” says Crosland. The food bank aims not only to feed people in need, but to nourish them. DC VegFest feels the same way. The vegan food drive is one way to “give back to the community,” says Elena Johnson, Compassion Over Killing’s special project manager. Festival attendees can do their part by bringing sealed nonperishable vegan items to donate — boxes of whole grains, bags of dried beans, cans of vegan soups, jars of nut butters, whatever you have to share. “The Capital Area Food Bank is going to be providing a truck,” says Crosland. Drop off your items at the truck then join the celebration. Check out DC VegFest’s amazing lineup of speakers and enjoy a feast of vegan eats. Bring your dogs, bring your kids — Sticky Fingers’ Doron Petersan will even be on hand for kid-friendly vegan treats. The action takes place at Yards Park and the event is free. What more can you ask for?
How the GOP food-stamp bill adds to state bureacracy
Forty statesred ones and blue oneshave embraced the broadest form of categorical eligibility, it found. Under the Republican House bill, however, that shortcut would be restricted yielding $11 billion in savings over a decade as households are discouraged or deemed ineligible for the benefits. An estimated 2.1 million people will lose benefits next year alone, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But while the federal governments payouts will shrink, cash-strapped states will have to start conducting more determination tests. This limitation in categorical eligibility would increase state administrative costs in SNAP and significantly curtail state flexibility, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures wrote in a May letter responding to a similar provision. Earlier this month, the American Public Human Services Association, a group whose membership includes SNAP administrators, echoed the sentiment. States have become more efficient in determining eligibility under the current SNAP rules, APHSA wrote in a letter to House and Senate leadership. APHSA strongly supports SNAPs current administrative options, which have allowed states to reduce administrative costs and errors; eliminate duplicative steps in the eligibility process; and make more effective use of scarce caseworker and information system resources, APHSA Executive Director Trace Wareing wrote. These options include the current one for categorical eligibility and those for SNAPs other administrative options. And, in 2007, the Government Accountability Office found that eliminating categorical eligibility altogether could decrease participation by as much as 25 percent in North Carolina or Arizona, or as little as 0.1 percent in Kansas or 0.2 percent in South Carolina. State officials also told GAO that eliminating categorical eligibility would increase costs, workload and error rates. Conservatives argue that restricting the practice prevents those who dont qualify for food aid from receiving it. And it is true that some are determined eligible when they are not. In many states, the practice eliminates the asset test (SNAP recipients must have less than $2,000 in liquid assets).