Cuts to food safety nets would harm many

Published 6:02 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

Dear Editor,

Under the U.S. House Budget proposal, passed by the Budget Committee, is a provision which would slash funding to SNAP and WIC nutritional programs, reduce school meal programs to low-income children, and cause over 13.6 million to lose access to these funds by 2027. In Kentucky, our current number of participants would be reduced from 418,533 to 135,377 by 2023. In money, this translates to (in millions of dollars) to $1,800 lost to the state by 2026. This will result in an average cut of $40.00 per person per month in benefits.

It is argued that block grants will provide states with increased flexibility to provide service while cutting costs. In reality, this will enable cash-strapped states, such as Kentucky, to opt out or cut services currently mandated. Block grants eliminates the flexibility of the program to respond to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey. It doesn’t even reduce paperwork. For example, it eliminates broad-based categorical eligibility access through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

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These programs reduce hunger and decrease low birth weight and obesity levels. A 2015 Center for American Progress study estimates that school children get 50 percent of their daily calories from their school meals. For every 1 billlion spent in this program, 11,500 jobs are created and supported. A misconception is that the majority of people using these programs do not work. In reality, greater than 80 percent work before and after receiving benefits. These programs often enable the working poor to survive and climb out of poverty.

Please write or call Rep. Brett Guthrie, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Mitch McConnell urging them not to cut programs so many of our fellow Kentuckians depend upon.

Jane Preston