On July 11, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill that did not, as it historically has, include food aid for needy children, seniors, and the working poor through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Passage of this bill was unfortunate and does not bode well for SNAP in the House. Over the past year, the House majority leadership has used every opportunity to try to cut and weaken SNAP. Last month, for instance, they had pushed – unsuccessfully -- a bill that would have slashed more than $20 billion from SNAP, which would have cut 2 million people from the program and reduced benefits for nearly 2 million more. Although the Senate passed its own cuts to SNAP, the houses are far apart on the issue.

New Jerseyans can’t afford any reduction in the program. More than 873,000 people in the state rely on SNAP to help put food on the table as the state continues to suffer the effects of the recession -- the unemployment rate just rose again, to 8.7 percent. SNAP reaches those who suddenly need help affording food, including after natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy. Now is not the time to cut this program. As the economy continues to improve and fewer people need assistance, the SNAP rolls and program cost will drop.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th, and the rest of New Jersey’s Democrats, along with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, did the right thing in voting against the recent Farm Bill that excludes SNAP. Hopefully they will work to ensure this worthy program is reauthorized by September 30, which it is set to expire, and without cuts that will hurt needy New Jerseyans.

Adele LaTourette

Director

New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition