June 13, 2012
Washington — The First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter Tuesday urging U.S. senators to support an amendment expected this week from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to restore a proposed cut of $4.5 billion over ten years in federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The children’s advocacy organization endorsed Gillibrand’s amendment, citing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showing that 20 percent of children live in homes where they or a family member is affected by hunger.
“Nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to feed children, and with one-in-five children already affected by hunger, Senator Gillibrand’s amendment comes at a critical moment for America’s kids,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
Gillibrand’s amendment would also increase funding for the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides healthy produce for more than three million children through their local schools. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20 percent of children are obese.
“This amendment protects a vital source of nutrition for children facing hunger, and it improves the nutritional value of the foods kids eat at school. With better nutrition, kids can stay focused in the classroom and build healthier lives.”
As the recession has continued to squeeze middle class families, the need for child nutrition supports has increased substantially. A recent Brookings Institution study, commissioned by First Focus, the Campaign for Children’s policy analysis partner organization, examined the impact. That analysis found that an additional eight million children are receiving SNAP, compared to levels before the recession.
“The recession has made it harder for parents to meet their children’s basic needs, and this amendment can ensure that SNAP will remain strong, to protect children from hunger,” said Lesley.
A USDA analysis confirms that, by reducing out-of-pocket food costs, SNAP is an effective anti-poverty investment. USDA data shows that SNAP reduced overall poverty by nearly eight percent in 2009 and had an even greater poverty reduction effect on families with children.
“Fighting childhood hunger, fighting child obesity, and fighting child poverty are three great reasons every senator should support the Gillibrand amendment,” said Lesley.