Nutrition assistance programs supporting our nation’s most vulnerable families are under attack. Funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was reduced effective March 1, 2013 as a result of the federal sequester. WIC offers nutrition assistance to roughly 9 million low-income women and children.
Both the U.S. House and Senate are proposing to cut millions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, through their respective five-year farm policy bills.
Our nation cannot afford congressional budget cuts to the food stamp program, in addition to the existing cuts to WIC. In 2012, SNAP helped nearly 47 million low-income Americans to purchase a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month. The average SNAP household has a net monthly income of just $338. Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children. Without SNAP assistance, these kids are more likely to get sick and less likely to perform well in school because of hunger or malnutrition.
Not only do we have a moral obligation to ensure children in low-income households are adequately fed, there also is an economic benefit of investing in programs like SNAP. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP benefits are one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus because they get money into the economy quickly. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, every $1.00 in SNAP benefits spent generates about $1.70 in economic activity. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.