Dear Members of Congress:
As the nation's frontline assistance for millions of families, children, and seniors facing hunger, we know firsthand the impact a helping hand can have for those who are facing food insecurity. One in eight Americans receives food assistance each year through the Feeding America network of 200 food banks and the 60,000 local food pantries, kitchens, shelters, and meal programs with whom we partner, 55 percent of which are faith-based. Together we serve 46 million Americans, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. This direct work with communities supports the crucial assistance that federal nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provide for individuals and families in need.
Despite an improving economy, 41 million of our neighbors and friends live in households without consistent access to adequate food, and the need among those who are food insecure continues to rise. According to the annual Map the Meal Gap report from Feeding America, the average food budget shortfall of food insecure families is $900 a year – a 13 percent increase since 2008. In fact, the aggregate annual food budget shortfall for all food insecure individuals in the United States now stands at more than $22.25 billion.
Federal nutrition programs like SNAP, TEFAP, and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) are not only a lifeline for millions of families struggling to make ends meet, they are also a key part of how we as a society honor our shared commitment to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors. The Farm Bill represents an opportunity to strengthen and improve these programs, which are also critical to the health and well-being of America's farmers and the agricultural industry, by taking the following steps:
Farm Bill nutrition programs have a real impact on your constituents, many of whom rely on one of our food banks or federal nutrition programs to meet their basic food needs. Please protect and strengthen TEFAP, SNAP, and CSFP in the Farm Bill. In the meantime, we invite you to visit a food bank serving your district so you can meet families supported by our collective efforts and see for yourself the importance of nutrition programs and how well they are working.