Next week, the U.S. House will take up the federal farm bill, which includes potentially devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (the program once known as food stamps).
As of early June, 47.6 million Americans were receiving SNAP benefits, according to the USDA. On average, they received $133.44 in monthly benefits. In Massachusetts, 900,000 people—or one in seven—receive SNAP benefits, Andrew Morehouse, head of the Food Bank of Western Mass., told the Advocate. In the four western counties, 166,000 people, or 85,000 households, rely on the program.
Earlier this week, the Senate approved a farm bill with $4 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next 10 years. The House version would go even deeper, cutting $20.5 billion from the program during the same time period. According to the Mass. Law Reform Institute, that would result in more than 50,000 households in Massachusetts losing their SNAP benefits, and another 100,000 seeing their monthly benefits reduced.
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, whose 2nd Congressional District covers much of the Valley, is leading the fight to protect SNAP benefits, including sponsoring an amendment that would stop cuts to the program. But there’s been some reluctance among leaders in McGovern’s Democratic party to sign on to the effort. So on Monday, the activist group Progressive Democrats of America will rally at the offices of a number of prominent legislators—including U.S. Rep. Richie Neal, of Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, a member of the Ways and Means Committee and at-large House Whip.
“It’s a disgrace that the Congress would even contemplate hurting 50 million Americans—including children, the elderly, even war veterans—by slashing the highly successful SNAP Program,” Tim Carpenter, PDA’s national director and a Florence resident, said in a press release.
The group will gather at Neal’s Springfield office, at 300 State St., on Monday, June 17, at noon.
Actions are also planned at the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman, all of California; Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois; Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida; and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.