This week the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee released and subsequently passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, which presents an opportunity for the Senate to strengthen the national commitment to reducing hunger and support agriculture. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida applauds Committee members for working together to develop a bipartisan Farm Bill and avoid drastic cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but unfortunately, the legislation –as currently drafted- falls short of making necessary investments in food assistance programs to help those in our communities facing hunger.
Our food bank sees firsthand the struggles facing families, seniors, veteran and children in our community when they are food insecure, and we know that our collective effort to reduce hunger relies upon strong federal nutrition programs. For every meal provided by Second Harvest Food Bank, SNAP provides 12.
The bill fails to make all of the investments necessary to truly reduce hunger and food insecurity in our communities. In particular, the level of investments in TEFAP (USDA commodities) fall short of those provided in the 2014 Farm Bill and represent a missed opportunity to prioritize food assistance in the bill’s reinvestments. We urge the Senate to prioritize increasing TEFAP funding as the legislation moves forward. This category of food represents 20% of our overall distribution.
We applaud the fact that the legislation recognizes the importance and effectiveness of SNAP and does not include provisions to limit access to the program or reduce it benefits. Additionally, the bill proposes changes that will improve SNAP operations, including allowing states the ability to view real-time data about whether SNAP applicants are receiving benefits in other states in order to prevent dual enrollment. The Senate bill stands in stark contrast to the House measure (H.R. 2), which would devastate Americans facing hunger and leave our food bank unable to fill the gap.
As the process for reauthorizing the Farm Bill continues, we encourage leaders in both chambers to recognize the importance of passing legislation that supports America’s agricultural producers and strengthens key nutrition programs for seniors, veterans, children and working families.
Tell Senator Bill Nelson and Senator Marco Rubio to support a strong Farm Bill that invests in food assistance and oppose amendments that take an axe to SNAP. Call 1-888-398-8702, tell them your zip code and you’ll be connected to their offices.