Advocate for Federal Nutrition Programs
As I’m writing this, Congress is currently ironing out the final details of the upcoming Farm Bill to be voted on by the House and the Senate.
For those who don’t know, the Farm Bill is the major food and farm legislation revisited by Congress every five years. The bill is vital to Ozarks Food Harvest because of how it influences federal nutrition program funding. Programs utilized at The Food Bank such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP or Senior Food box program) are all affected by this important piece of legislation.
As a supporter of hunger relief in the Ozarks, I feel it is our duty to advocate to protect nutrition programs that assist with Ozarks Food Harvest’s mission of Transforming Hunger into Hope.
The partnership between federal programs and private assistance ensures folks in southwest Missouri—and across the United States—don’t have to decide whether or not they can afford to eat today. For example, SNAP provided food assistance to more than 760,000 individuals in Missouri in 2017, with more than 70 percent of those participants consisting of families with children.
TEFAP is another essential resource that provides nutritious USDA food for food banks that work to feed those in our community who have nowhere else to turn for assistance. Some individuals aren’t qualified for these programs, which is where Ozarks Food Harvest steps in by serving 261,000 unduplicated individuals each year.
It’s important to remember that the people who struggle with hunger are not just a statistic; they are our neighbors, friends and family members. They just need a little help to get back on their feet when life brings unexpected events.
Thirty-five-year-old Stephanie, a recipient of Ozarks Food Harvest services, shared, “I was used to not worrying. My family had two decent incomes coming in. In October 2017, my husband came down very sick. He spent two full months in the hospital and almost died more times than I can count. We ‘celebrated’ our one year anniversary in the hospital. Worry is my way of life now.”
If we are to see cuts to programs like SNAP or TEFAP, families like Stephanie’s will be forced to make the choice between food and medical care.
We ask for your help to let Missouri legislators know our network supports programs like SNAP, TEFAP and CSFP to ensure no one in Missouri or any other state goes hungry. Please join me in contacting your representatives from Congress today through the Feeding America advocacy hotline, 888-398-8702, or contact them through their websites and ask them to make hunger relief a priority: Sen. Claire McCaskill, mccaskill.senate.gov; Sen. Roy Blunt, blunt.senate.gov; and Rep. Billy Long, long.house.gov.
Visit ozarksfoodharvest.org or give Bart a call to learn more about how you can help our community advocate for greater food access.