The Jewish Council for Public Affairs called the Senate Farm Bill, passed June 21, productive, but incomplete. The legislation expands nutritious options to some but simultaneously weakens anti-hunger benefits for others. The JCPA commended the Senate for their thorough and bipartisan process and said it looks forward to continuing work together to strengthen the bill.
“For the past year, we have been calling on the Senate to pass a Farm Bill that would see the bounty of our nation’s farms delivered to the tables of all Americans. Unfortunately, the version passed by the Senate today remains incomplete,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “There are many innovative and thoughtful provisions that we can be proud of, including streamlining delivery of food for seniors and expanding access to fresh produce to schools. Still, the Farm Bill simultaneously restricts food purchases by cutting $4.5 billion from SNAP. This will result in, on average, approximately 500,000 households receiving an estimated $90 less in SNAP benefits each month. Having lived on the food stamp budget before as part of our Food Stamp Challenge, I know how scant the food on the current SNAP allotment can be. As the legislative process continues, we will partner with Congress to develop policies that will ensure that every American has access to nutritious and affordable meals.”
“SNAP is at the heart of our social safety net. One of our country’s most successful programs, it is an efficient and rapid response, allowing millions to continue to afford food while looking for work or getting back on their feet,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold. “We are disappointed that Senator Gillibrand’s amendment to restore SNAP funding was defeated but are hopeful that our neediest will not be forgotten as this bill moves forward.
“Months of hard work have gone into this Farm Bill which admirably improves nutrition assistance for seniors and children,” continued Gold. “And while this version is unsatisfying, it is our hope that Congress continues to move forward with this vital legislation while finding ways to fulfill our country’s promise that none need go hungry in a land of such bounty.”
For the past year, through a national Food Stamp Challenge, Hunger Seders in the US Capitol and around the country, and as one of the leaders of the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group—a diverse cross section of Jewish advocacy, denominational, and educational organizations inspired by Jewish values to work for just U.S. food and agricultural policies—the JCPA has been working to raise awareness of and prevent further cuts to our nation’s nutrition assistance programs, especially SNAP.