Hungry Children Win with House Farm Bill’s Loss
Ed Walz (Former Staff)Federal Budget Nutrition
Washington – The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 195-234 to reject the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 1947, colloquially the House “Farm Bill”), legislation weakening federal investments in child nutrition.
The legislation would have cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) by more than $20 billion over 10 years. Forty-seven percent of SNAP funding goes to children.
“The House Farm Bill’s defeat is a victory for kids. Yes, the federal government has budget problems, but hungry kids didn’t cause them, and cutting anti-hunger investments is the wrong way to solve them,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley. “It’s simple math – nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to children, so the House Farm Bill would have taken food away from hungry kids.”
The bill also makes several SNAP policy changes that would make it harder for hungry children to get the food they need. Specifically, it would have:
- Directed state SNAP agencies to take families’ SNAP funds away if not fully used within 60 days, as families might do to stretch resources in response to a job loss, an illness, a wage cut, or other economic setback;
- Ended the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative, which helps low-income, legal immigrant (often citizen) children get access to the food they need;
- Denied SNAP to some ex-offenders, which harms children by reducing the family’s net SNAP resources;
- Encouraged states to impose a work requirements on families receiving SNAP, by allowing states to reallocate half of any savings from a work requirement program that results in SNAP denials; and
- Allowed states to drug-test children and other SNAP recipients.
“It’s too early to know why the House Farm Bill failed, but I sure hope the idea of drug-testing three-year-olds played a part,” said Lesley.
The legislation would also weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). FFVP provides funding to help local schools make fresh produce available to children in low-income communities, but the bill would make dried, canned, and frozen produce – including products with added sugar, salt, or other additives – eligible for FFVP funding.
“Politicians and agribusiness lobbyists can’t fool the American people – pizza’s not a vegetable, and canned fruits packed in sugar syrup aren’t fresh,” said Lesley.
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.