Abandoning the American Commitment to Ensure No Child Goes Hungry, House Passes Billions in Cuts to Food Assistance that Helps 357,000 West Virginians
Media Contact: Caitlin Cook, 304.543.4879
Charleston, WV - The 2018 budget resolution that the House of Representatives passed today strips billions of dollars from a program that helps working families put food on the table to accommodate massive tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy. Alongside drastic cuts to programs that expand economic opportunity for ordinary Americans, the budget includes major reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, currently helps 74,000 West Virginians stay out of poverty and keep healthy food on the table.
"SNAP is one of the most cost-effective tools we have in the fight against hunger and poverty," said Seth DiStefano, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Campaign Coordinator. "It's also good for our economy. When families can afford to buy groceries, it pumps money back into local businesses and fuels long-term economic growth. This budget abandons our commitment to ensure no child goes hungry and paints a dark picture of our priorities, cutting critical programs for working families, seniors, children and people with disabilities to set up tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy."
Just like the House, the Senate is working to pass a budget resolution that opens the door for similar drastic cuts and massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. These tax giveaways would add over $1.5 trillion to budget deficits and likely force even deeper cuts to programs like SNAP that help thousands of West Virginian families. These cuts would pull the rug out from under the most vulnerable in our society, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And to pass this dangerous tax plan, Republicans in Senate are also establishing a partisan process that allows them to cut taxes for the top 1 percent with just 50 votes.
Before America made a national commitment to end hunger, some areas of the country had serious problems with hunger, including children suffering from malnutrition. Although the food assistance SNAP provides is extremely modest – averaging only $1.29 per person per meal – the program successfully keeps more than 8 million people out of poverty nationwide, including nearly 4 million children. In West Virginia alone, SNAP currently helps keep 24,000 of children out of poverty and improves long-term health, education, and employment outcomes for children across the state.
"If West Virginia families lose SNAP benefits, thousands in our community could go hungry," said Ellen Allen, Covenant House Director. "We do good work at the Covenant to help families and individuals, but we cannot fill the gap that these cuts would create. Instead of supporting tax cuts that help those who need it the least and the expense of those struggling to get by, West Virginia's congressional delegation should pledge to protect SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the federal budget. We all win when our communities are healthy and prosperous."
SNAP also supports local economic growth. Families spend their SNAP benefits at local grocery stores and other retailers, driving roughly $500 million into our state's economy each year. If SNAP is cut, retailers could take a hit, and many of our communities, especially in rural areas, could lose businesses and jobs.
In addition to slashing SNAP funding, the House and Senate budgets would force devastating cuts to Medicaid and programs that provide income assistance, job training, help for students struggling to afford college, and economic development. If these budgets become law, they will only worsen the growing gap between the richest households and everyone else.