Defending the First Line of Defense Against Hunger

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps), is frequently referred to as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.  Since the beginning of the program, SNAP has helped millions of Americans avoid hunger and malnutrition, especially children, the elderly, and people with disabilities (for a historical perspective on SNAP, watch “Food Stamps Make America Stronger”).

The SNAP program is a part of the “Farm Bill” – federal legislation that guides agricultural and food policy.  The Senate passed a version of this bill in June.  We appreciate the Senate’s choice to defend the strong structure of the program that has provided for so many for so long.  Amendments that would have negative impacts on access and resources for the program were soundly defeated, and for this we are glad.

We are also pleased that U.S. Senator Ben Nelson introduced an amendment that would require that bonus dollars awarded to states with high performance in accuracy be reinvested in the program.  We believe that this will continue to build the strong program performance and efficiency we have seen in SNAP for many years, especially in Nebraska.  In fact, Nebraska already has received multiple performance bonuses.

As the legislation moves to the House of Representatives, Nebraska Appleseed and other advocates will continue to work to defend the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.  Efforts will be needed particularly to protect those that struggle to afford both food and utilities.

But for now, we commend the Senate for protecting, in many ways, this program that has been called “A Government Reform that Worked” by the National Journal, and that has significantly built up the nutrition, health, and well-being of Americans.

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