The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) benefits alleviate the widespread prevalence of poverty and are a crucial tool for battling hunger nationally. The $8 billion budget cuts in the SNAP program included in the 2014 Farm Bill will increase poverty and will be felt in our own community.
From 2000-2009 SNAP benefits led to a 4.4 percent average annual decline in the prevalence of poverty. In 2012 SNAP helped keep 4.9 million people above the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) line, 1.4 million being children.
According to the Thurston Thrives 2013 Community Assessment, 15 percent of residents in the ZIP code zone of 98502 live in poverty. Approximately 5,434 of those residents are families with children under 18 years of age. About 28 percent of students enrolled in the free and reduced meal program in the Olympia School District, and 19 percent in the Griffin School District.
President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill this week. As a compassionate community, we must express our outrage with these ruthless budget cuts and fight for social justice within the food system.