Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) spoke out against the $11 billion cuts to food stamps going into effect today and lasting for the next three years at a press conference at Price Chopper in Middletown.
Five billion dollars was cut starting Nov. 1, a number that will grow to $11 billion over the next three years, according to DeLauro.
She was joined by Lucy Nolan, Executive Director of End Hunger Connecticut; Stan Sorkin, President of the Connecticut Food Association; Nancy Carrington, President & CEO of the Connecticut Food Bank and Jo-Ann Ndiaye, a food stamp recipient from New Haven.
The cut is a result of an expiration of food stamp benefits that were provided in the 2009 economic recovery act. Congress is currently debating a five-year farm bill; the version supported by Republicans in the House of Representatives contains $40 billion worth of food stamp cuts, while the Senate bill cuts $4.5 billion.
According to End Hunger, besides helping Connecticut residents afford nutritious food for themselves and their families, SNAP delivers $1.78 to the economy for every $1 in benefits distributed. Also, 91 percent of SNAP benefits are spent within the first week they are received by families.
"If you can't do this for humanitarian reasons," DeLauro said about restoring benefits, "deal with it on an economic level. This is the wrong way to deal with this and the nation needs to know this."
Arrayed on a table nearby were tomatoes, carrots, bananas, chicken breasts, bread, eggs and other healthy choices DeLauro said represented $36 in nutritious food that a family of four receiving SNAP will now do without monthly.
Any cuts that come in addition to the $11 billion going into effect will leave millions of low-income Americans, including children, without necessary access to food, Delauro said. “These cuts are terrible for families on the edge, terrible for our economic recovery, and terrible for the future."
DeLauro told those gathered that she has heard complaints that recipients of food stamps are "lazy," for accepting federal benefits. "Clearly the elderly and children are not inclined to go out and get a job," she said.
“Imagine we had a miracle vaccine that made everyone who took it healthier, and encouraged children’s growth and brain development. If such a vaccine existed, wouldn’t we try to vaccinate every child in America? We do have that vaccine and it is called food," she said. "Food stamps help hungry people get food and it makes a profound difference for people.
"They have a very real impact on people’s lives, particularly children," DeLauro said. "I regret the cut in benefits I fought so hard for is happening and will work my hardest to ensure no future cuts occur.”
“When SNAP was increased by 13 percent as one of the first pieces of the ARRA it worked," Nolan said. "Food insecurity in Connecticut went down. Families ate a little better, and had a tool to buy healthier foods. Taking back this increase will hurt our 400,000 plus residents using the program and will decrease their buying power. It's bad for them and it's bad for the economy.”
Ndiaye told reporters how difficult it was for her to feed her family with SNAP benefits before today's cut. DeLauro said Ndiaye had confided in her the heartbreak of having to tell her children that they cannot bring home any friends for dinner because there simply isn't enough food to go around.
"Where do our values and our priorities lie?" DeLauro asked.
“These cuts mean 17 million meals will be lost from the tables of our most vulnerable residents,” said Carrington. “The 424,000 men, women and children affected by these cuts will turn to food-assistance network for help and we are already strained with trying to keep up with the demand. Since 2010, our food distribution has increased by 25 percent. We need a strong charitable system and a strong federal anti-hunger safety net to fight hunger.”
Information about this change are available on the Department of Social Services website. Households can check on their SNAP benefit amounts by calling the toll-free number on the back of their EBT card, visiting www.connect.ct.gov, or viewing the balance on their most recent grocery receipt.
SNAP beneficiaries may also visit www.211ct.org or dial 211.