DAVID SCOTT - CONGRESSMAN, REPRESENTING GEORGIA'S 13TH DISTRICT

Column

Shameful Cuts to Vital Food Program

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Washington, November 1, 2013 | comments
Congressman David Scott submitted this editorial about cuts to the SNAP program to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The paper published his views this morning.

Shameful cuts to vital food program

By David Scott

Republicans in the House of Representatives recently voted to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

These cuts target our most vulnerable citizens, like seniors, children, veterans and disabled persons. In fact, veterans are the fastest-growing group receiving food stamp benefits. Census data indicate that about 900,000 veterans receive SNAP each month. And this figure is understated, because the Census data do not consider homeless veterans receiving SNAP benefits.

This program is a critical support for many households with veterans. Stars and Stripes reported that food purchases paid for with SNAP at commissaries tripled from 2008 to 2011. Feed our Vets, a nonprofit group that establishes food pantries for veterans, has estimated that nearly 3 million veterans and their families don’t get enough food to eat each month.
This terrible Republican cut of $40 billion reduces the food assistance program by half.

The Republicans held no hearings or did any an analysis of the hurt and pain and hunger this cut will cause the people of our nation. This cut is not only irresponsible, it is downright mean to the American people.

Unfortunately, some in the Republican Party think a SNAP beneficiary is usually black, urban or an illegal immigrant. But here are the facts: 37 percent of food stamp participants are white, 23 percent are African-American, and 10 percent are Hispanic, according to USDA.
 
SNAP serves more than 47 million Americans; 99 percent live below the poverty line. And that number has been growing due to the recession; our nation lost 300,000 jobs per month between 2008 and 2010.

Thank God we had SNAP as a safety net for people to fall back on. Jobs are now coming back, albeit slowly, and people are getting off food stamps. SNAP is a temporary benefit that helps those struggling to put food on the table until they can get back to self-sufficiency. The average SNAP recipient receives benefits for nine months.

On the issues of waste, fraud and abuse, the facts tell us that SNAP abuse is lower than it’s ever been. In Georgia, the most recent data from FY 2011 show that the SNAP accuracy rate was more than 97 percent, and part of the 3 percent was actually underpayments, which save the government money.

This cut is irresponsible and hurtful. It is especially shameful because we are the United States of America, and we are indeed an exceptional people, because we are a nation with a rich history of care and compassion for the most vulnerable among us. These food assistance cuts for our most needy truly makes us look so little, not the proud and exceptional America that God has truly blessed us to be.

We will not let this Republican $40 billion cut to our vital food and nutrition assistance happen. We must focus first on jobs before cutting food assistance.

Georgia Congressman David Scott, a Democrat, represents the 13th District.
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