Letter: Children will suffer under the House version of the farm bill
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps, is the front line defense against hunger and food insecurity and is part of the farm bill. At this time, the Senate and the House of Representatives each have passed a different version of the Farm Bill. The House version includes changes to SNAP that could result in more than 1.2 million people, including children, losing access to critical food assistance each month. Worse yet, it takes money away from food and families to create a new bureaucracy and increase paperwork requirements. And it would place unfunded mandates on state government agencies at a time when states like North Dakota can least afford it.
Nearly half of North Dakota's 53,269 SNAP recipients are children. SNAP kept 6,000 North Dakota children out of poverty in each year between 2009 and 2012. By providing much needed economic support, SNAP allows families to have sufficient nutrition during times of unemployment, fluctuating incomes and low-wage work.
Under the language in the House farm bill, children in households losing SNAP eligibility might also lose access to free lunch and breakfast at school. Taken together, it will mean more children going without meals at home and at school. As an educator, I know that coming to school hungry is one of the most serious roadblocks to successful learning. And children whose families don't have basic food security are much more likely to face other problems at school and are less likely to grow up to become healthy contributing members to society.
I urge Rep. Kevin Cramer to support a farm bill in conference committee that looks more like the Senate's bipartisan version that supports and strengthens SNAP. Our children and our future are counting on you.
Dullum lives in West Fargo.