Statement Attributable to Kathleen DiChiara, President and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey:
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is deeply concerned by the recent vote of the House Agriculture Committee to slash hunger relief spending by $16.5 billion. Our food bank and other local charities are already stretched to the breaking point trying to keep up with increased need. Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, would be devastating to our community, and there is no way for charities like ours to make up the difference.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey believes that taking care of our neighbors is an American value, and feeding our neighbors is a shared responsibility. Every day the FoodBank sees this partnership reflected in the generous support of our volunteers and donors, and we are grateful that this value is reflected in Washington through important anti-hunger programs like SNAP. Cutting SNAP is an abdication of that responsibility, and to do so at a time when the need for food assistance has never been greater is both troubling and short-sighted.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey distributed 39 million pounds of groceries to those struggling to put food on the table last year, an increase of more than 60 percent in three years. Food bank clients include households who have too much in income to qualify for SNAP but who still are without resources to feed their families, as well as SNAP participants whose benefits are inadequate to get them through the month. SNAP benefits average less than $1.50 per person per meal, and over 90 percent of benefits are spent by day 21 of the month, leaving many families to turn to local charities to make ends meet.
SNAP is targeted at our most vulnerable: 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled person, and 85 percent have gross income at or below 100 percent of the poverty line.
Deficit reduction is an important national priority, but it must not be undertaken at the expense of our most vulnerable. On behalf of the Community FoodBank, I urge every Representative in New Jersey to oppose anti-hunger cuts in the House Farm Bill and to work to restore the cuts on the House floor.