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November 8, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Farm bill is crucial to direct our agriculture and nutrition policy for hungry Americans
Right now Congress is debating a farm bill that will direct our agriculture and nutrition policy for the next several years ["Congress must compromise on farm bill," Online, Oct. 29]. The House and Senate passed two very different bills. SNAP is being cut: Some want to gut the program, but others want to protect it.
On Nov. 1, every food-stamp recipient (low-income Americans) saw his or her benefits reduced. It has become a political issue.
As somebody who believes that our government should not actively try to increase hunger in America, I’d like to see our members of Congress work to pass a farm bill that protects anti-hunger programs and finds a better way to balance the budget. Can’t we find a better way to put our fiscal house in order?
Here is my take: People in general have certain basic needs and necessities like food, clothing and shelter. When these are not met, people tend to voice their concerns and get really vociferous about it. By cutting the SNAP program, are the legislators checking to see if incomes rise for common Americans so they don’t have to apply for SNAP? If the answer is yes, then they should cut it. Otherwise, they need to keep it.
Nalina Nagarajan, Kirkland
October 17, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Amid news of shutdown, Americans forget the issue of hunger
The other Washington is suffocating us [“What a mess we’ve made in the USA,” NWWednesday, Oct. 16].
Even worse is the situation for the 1-in-5 children at risk of going to bed hungry. The Supplemnental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) helps put food on the table for 47 million Americans, but it is also being held hostage. Hunger doesn’t wait for a vote, it is here now. Over 3 million children in our world die each year from lack of nutrition — one child every 10 seconds. An American government that works can do something about hunger, at home and in the world.
Tell your elected officials to do something about these problems: pass a SNAP program that will feed America’s hungry and scale up nutrition aid to put an end to this world tragedy.
Willie Dickerson, Snohomish
September 26, 2013 at 7:02 PM
Immigration increases poverty
For clearly good reasons, The Seattle Times has editorialized and covered poverty in this country and region well for many years. [“Column: SNAP and the GOP’s war on the poor,” Opinion, Sept. 24.]
But it somehow misses a significant factor at work: circular poverty, the role immigration policy plays in it. We encourage it in a variety of ways and never recognize that such things as the “war on poverty” advocated by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s accomplished nothing.
Just after the war on poverty was declared, we passed the 1965 Immigration Act, negating what had preceded it, when fewer immigrants were permitted entry, and most had an education equivalent to that of U.S. citizens. This had previously resulted in rapid assimilation without burdening our welfare system.
Johnson’s legislation was followed by a law that allowed in more of the world’s undereducated poor people. Now many of these immigrants are welfare recipients or those now meeting the poverty definition.
This information is important today, since Congress is debating immigration bill S. 744, which would provide legal status and allow entry to millions of mostly poor immigrants.
Why would Congress want to add millions of people living in poverty to the U.S.?
Richard Pelto, Kenmore
September 25, 2013 at 7:26 AM
A punch in the gut
When I first heard that the House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $4 billion annually for the next 10 years, I was shocked and saddened. [“House conservatives vote to cut $4B in food stamps,” News, Sept. 20.]
A “yes” vote on this bill means a deliberate decision to vote to make people hungry. This bill claims to fight fraud and waste in the system but it actually is a slap in the face to all the charitable hunger-relief organizations that have struggled to meet the record rise in need for emergency-food services since the start of the recession, on dwindling contributions from the private sector.
Furthermore, it’s a punch in the gut to the families in crisis who need SNAP to survive. There are 1.1 million Washingtonians who rely on SNAP. These are children, seniors living on fixed incomes, people with disabilities who are unable to work, veterans and workers who are underpaid or underemployed.
All of these people are already being asked to make a sacrifice when, on Nov. 1, the average benefit will be reduced to less than $1.40 per person, per meal.
Congress isn’t asking anyone else to make this kind of sacrifice. It’s insulting and demeaning, and we should all be outraged.
Christina Wong, SeattleInformation in this letter, originally published on Sept. 25, 2013, was corrected on Sept. 26, 2013. A previous version of this letter stated that SNAP would be cut by $4 billion, but did not include the information that the program would be cut by $4 billion annually for the next 10 years.
September 18, 2013 at 6:54 AM
Congress should protect people, not corporations
The House of Representatives is likely to vote this week to cut food assistance by $40 billion over 10 years, a cut that could threaten an adequate food supply for as many as six million Americans. [“House bill would cut $4B a year from food stamps,” seattletimes.com, Sept. 16.]
While the annual $4 billion cut would impact a diverse range of people (including veterans), it would disproportionately hurt children, who make up almost half of food stamps recipients.
Congress needs to re-evaluate its priorities. These politicians are OK with taking food away from children, while at the same time continuing to protect tax loopholes that allow corporations like Apple, General Electric and Verizon to avoid paying their fair share in federal taxes.
It’s outrageous that Congress would play political games with people who are struggling to put food on the table. Our elected officials need to stand up and protect their constituents, families and communities; not just corporations.
Bonnie Daut, Kent
August 6, 2013 at 6:28 AM
Farm bill was a mega-bill
The House of Representatives and House Republican leadership recently took a bold step to separate the farm bill into farm policy and feeding programs (food stamps). [“Budget plans imploding, Congress is heading home,” News, Aug. 2.]
When asked for a reaction to the split, the most common answer in my farm community is “it’s about time.”
We have allowed Congress to fall into a pattern of mega-bills too large for anyone but full-time lobbyists to read and understand. Focusing on issues separately allows for more transparency, better debate and less opportunity for brokered back-scratching.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a relatively recent addition to the farm bill, and has nothing to do with providing a market for U.S. farmers. It has everything to do with forcing urban congressional attention to farm policy, the ultimate national-security issue. Bluntly, it buys urban votes.
The House Republican leadership understands voter frustration with thousand-page bills that have to be passed before anyone knows what’s in them. Mega-bills are written by special interests and will always be inherently flawed.
Passing a farm bill that focuses on farming is the start of a great trend.
Sue Lani Madsen, Edwall
August 6, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Hunger is a serious issue
Neal Keny-Guyer is correct that America can do more to help feed the world’s hungry. [“Guest column: A solution for how U.S. foreign aid can feed more for less,” Opinion, Aug. 3.]
With 5 million children dying each year from poor nutrition, and millions more suffering illnesses and stunted growth, this is a crisis.
Rep. Adam Smith has been working on this issue of more efficient foreign aid for some time. The opportunity to help America’s hungry is also present, with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in danger of cuts, while currently one in five children are hungry in the U.S.
So, indeed, citizens should contact their legislators about hunger issues. August is a great time to do so; with Congress recessed, there are opportunities to speak to them while they are back at home.
Willie Dickerson, Snohomish
July 22, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Allotment is too much
Kyung Song’s illuminating story on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was the first time I’ve seen a monthly allotment for a participant, and it made me question my support for such low-income food assistance. [“A food-stamp fight over values,” page one, July 18.]
$526 a month is very generous for a three-member family. I checked with Seattle-area friends who have kids, who were flabbergasted by how quickly Davida Norrell ran out of program benefits (two weeks), when they don’t spend that in a full month on larger families.
If she or her daughters cooked, instead of buying microwave meals, and ate reasonable portions, Norrell could stretch her dollar — our tax dollars — much further.
This generous allotment, which encourages overeating and poor nutrition, seems to work at cross-purposes to Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign.
Sadly, I’m not surprised our government is defeating itself.
Greg Piper, Seattle
July 21, 2013 at 7:59 AM
Welfare for the rich
Thank you for printing the article about what has happened with food stamps and the farm bill. [“A food-stamp fight over values,” page one, July 18.]
It is important for the American people to understand that many Republicans in our government, and our country, do not think that poor people have the right to food. This is shocking, and shameful, given their eagerness to hand generous farm subsidies to mostly rich agribusinesses.
This says to me that poor people should just starve, while the rich should get even more for doing less. Apparently, while welfare for the poor is bad and wrong, welfare for the rich is just fine.
I hope Americans will remember this awful injustice in the next election.
Diane Bowers, Shoreline
The wealthy prosper
The recession’s job losses disproportionately affected the economically disadvantaged. The wealthy have done well, with the stock market now at record highs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this food stamp kerfuffle happens when we note that Congress is full of wealthy people.
If our legislators looked for ways to enable the less wealthy to support themselves, rather than enacting legislation to benefit the wealthy, the need for food stamps would fall.
Part of the problem is the way that we fund our elections for Congress, which makes it more likely that the wealthy are elected, and that those elected are more beholden to their donors than to the people they represent.
If we don’t speak up to our elected representatives, nothing will change, and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us will further widen, endangering our democracy.
Larry Donohue, Seattle
June 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Food stamps are a necessity
As syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. pointed out, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the product of former Sens. Bob Dole and George McGovern because “both were horrified that too many Americans were going without nourishment.” [“Boehner’s House implodes,” Opinion, June 24.]
Every member of Congress should be required to live in the poorest area of the state he or she represents, under the same conditions and with only the resources available to those people, and then see how they would vote on legislation regarding SNAP.
Furthermore, any member of Congress who benefits from a bill should recuse themselves from voting; for example, the farm bill’s subsidies for agribusiness.
Harriet Benjamin, Seattle
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