Proposed budget cuts would affect our neighbors struggling with hunger
Statement from Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest
Dear friends of The Food Bank,
The budget proposal released this week by The White House would drastically reduce the much-needed government support many of our neighbors here in the Ozarks, and across the country, depend on to have enough to eat.
More than 828,000 people in Missouri rely on benefits from SNAP, formerly food stamps. A proposed cut of $193 billion to the program over the next 10 years would lead to an estimated loss of 45 billion meals. With one in five children and one in seven adults struggling with hunger in our community, these cuts would be devastating for families.
In addition to the cuts to SNAP, the proposed $27 million in cuts to TEFAP would reduce the number of meals our pantries can provide.
Food banks like ours will not be able to fill the gap left by these cuts if this budget is approved by Congress. While Ozarks Food Harvest does make a big difference providing more than 15.5 million meals annually to folks in need, national programs like SNAP reach far more people. In fact, charitable food programs provide only 10 percent of the meals that SNAP does.
Our friend Pastor John Pace, who runs the C-Street Connect food pantry at Crimson House, shared with us that cuts to SNAP and TEFAP would be overwhelming for his clients who are facing the daily challenges related to hunger and poverty.
He said, “When it comes to federal assistance, accountability for funding received is rightfully required regardless of administration; yet in that accountability, the individual faces of those affected cannot be lost in the sea of government dollars.”
In 2016, C-Street served 2,768 children and adults with TEFAP food assistance, and an additional 1,723 folks receive SNAP assistance. These are the numbers from just one pantry in Ozarks Food Harvest’s network of 270 hunger-relief agencies.
We ask you, our supporters, to contact your representatives and urge them to make these nutrition programs a priority. We’re optimistic that the voices of our supporters will work together in the hopes that this budget will not be approved as it stands today.
Please join me in contacting your representatives today through the Feeding America advocacy hotline, 888-398-8702 or contact them through their websites: Sen. Claire McCaskill, mccaskill.senate.gov; Sen. Roy Blunt, blunt.senate.gov; and Rep. Billy Long, long.house.gov.
Thank you for helping us stand up for those in our community who desperately need our support.
Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest