Proposed U.S. House Farm Bill would worsen hunger for Vermonters

Dear Editor,

On April 12, the House released a draft of the Farm Bill that aims to significantly erode nutrition programs that support millions of Americans, including SNAP (known in Vermont as 3SquaresVT), our nation’s largest hunger-relief program that helps 75,000 Vermonters feed themselves and their families. The House Farm Bill endangers the long-term bipartisan commitment to preventing hunger. These proposed changes to SNAP will take away food from children, seniors, working people, people struggling to find jobs, and others struggling to make ends meet.

As it has for decades, SNAP continues to be a highly successful and effective program that is proven to reduce hunger and poverty, and leads to positive short and long-term health, education, and employment outcomes. The House Farm Bill proposes drastically restricting eligibility for many populations already struggling to put enough food on the table, particularly working families with children and those who are underemployed or struggling to find work.  If these changes were to go into effect, thousands of Vermonters will be cut from the SNAP program or see a major reduction in their benefits, many children will lose access to school meals, and hunger will rise.

“If passed as written, this bill would inflict immediate harm on millions of Americans struggling to put food on their tables,” said Representative Peter Welch (D.-VT.). “It is simply beyond comprehension that Congress would slash nutrition programs on the heels of passing a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. I will do all I can to stop these provisions from becoming law.”

The Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition, a group of anti-hunger advocates, agriculture organizations, state agencies, and community service providers, has developed farm bill priorities that reflect the true needs of Vermonters, and will be championed in DC by our entire congressional delegation. “Hunger Free Vermont and our Coalition partners are working hard to protect SNAP and other federal nutrition programs from these devastating changes. Rather than creating more barriers to participation, Congress should be crafting policies that streamline and increase SNAP benefits so people can access even more of the healthy food they need,” stated Anore Horton, acting executive director of Hunger Free Vermont. “Not only is access to food a basic human right, but when you have the nutrition you need for physical and mental health, you can get back on your feet more quickly.”

We all win when our communities are healthy and prosperous. Hunger Free Vermont and its partners on the Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition believe we have a shared responsibility to keep our neighbors and community members from going hungry. Learn more about the Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition, and sign on in support of the Coalition’s recommendations at: hungerfreevt.org/farmbill2018.

Alida Duncan, development and communications director, Hunger Free Vermont.

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