More than 40 million people in the United States are food insecure, according to the USDA, which means they don’t have access to the nutritious foods they need. In Southeastern Michigan, that’s 1 in every 6 people who don’t necessarily know where their next meal will come from.
At United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we believe that no family should ever have to choose between having food on their table or keeping their lights on. That’s why we work to ensure that our state and national policies support access to nutritious meals, health care for children and the opportunity to live in communities that foster good health.
One of those policies is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps eligible low- and no-income families and individuals put food on their tables. Every five years, the Farm Bill—a piece of legislation that authorizes our nation’s agriculture and food programs, including SNAP—is up for renewal.
When the Farm Bill was last reauthorized in 2013, United Way mobilized 478 advocates to send 1,210 letters to Congress to oppose proposed cuts to SNAP in the bill. Though SNAP funding was still reduced, their advocacy helped to push for a compromise that minimized the cuts.
“Congress needs to hear the voices of organizations and individuals who want to protect SNAP and the families it supports,” says Sara Gold, United Way’s director of Healthy Kids. “This advocacy makes a real difference.”
This year, the Farm Bill—and SNAP—are up for debate again in Congress.
That’s why over the past week, our Policy and Health teams took part in the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. More than 1,200 people from local and national organizations attended the conference to discuss how we can collectively work to solve hunger in America.
Our team met with members of Congress and their staff members to stress the importance of policies like SNAP.
SNAP has made headlines recently due to changes proposed in President Donald Trump’s budget. The proposed budget called for massive cuts to SNAP and would make harmful changes to the way that families can access food through the program. In meetings this week, organizations like United Way for Southeastern Michigan asked their legislators to protect SNAP.
In Michigan, one in seven people relies on SNAP to access the nutritious food—and half of them are children. SNAP pulls families out of poverty, increases participation in local economies and ensures that children have access to fresh food. It helps bridge the gap for seniors, children and people with disabilities who are food insecure. Preserving the program structure of SNAP ensures that we can respond and adjust as economy gets better or worse.
With 41 million Americans relying on SNAP each month, charities cannot fill this gap on their own. For every one meal served by a charity, SNAP serves 12 meals, according to Feeding America.
United Way urges Congress to reject this budget. Congress must work toward a plan that includes support for SNAP based on the overwhelming success it is has demonstrated in helping families in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties keep food on the table.
And we need your help to do it.
Lawmakers need to hear from the people they serve. Our most vulnerable population — children — rely on SNAP. Use your voice to protect SNAP.