The president’s proposed budget would cut key nutrition programs that feed hungry Vermonters

A post by John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank

February 13, 2018 – Yesterday, the White House released a proposed budget for 2019 that aims to make significant cuts to programs that support millions of Americans; children, seniors and working families. This budget would be devastating to the 42 million Americans struggling with food insecurity, including 74,600 food insecure Vermonters.

The proposed budget aims to cut SNAP (also known as food stamps and 3SquaresVT), which would be reduced by more than $213 billion over 10 years – a cut of more than 30 percent. This would result in the loss of more than 40 billion meals over the next 10 years, including many millions of meals in Vermont. Though the Vermont Foodbank and other Feeding America food banks throughout the US together provide more than 4 billion meals each year, national programs like SNAP reach far more people. For every meal that the Feeding America network provides, SNAP provides 12 meals.

The White House has also proposed changes to the way that families receive SNAP benefits. In its current form, SNAP is respected by experts as a highly effective program that provides a path out of poverty and hunger, leading to improved educational outcomes, productivity, and health. These changes would take an efficient and streamlined program, and introduce unneeded and inefficient complexity, all while reducing farm income and employment in food manufacturing and retailing.

The budget also eliminates a critical program for low income older Americans, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). In Vermont, the USDA’s partner in administering this key nutrition program is the Vermont Foodbank, delivering monthly boxes of staple foods to 2,400 older Vermonters. With the reality of Vermont’s aging population and the fact that 7.5% of older Vermonters struggle to access the food they need, we should be looking for ways to better feed these neighbors, instead of cutting the programs they rely on. If this program were eliminated, at a national level over 145 million meals a year to 728,000 seniors throughout the US would disappear.

While your Vermont Foodbank works tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance to families struggling to put meals on the table, the problem is simply too big to fix without national government programs that are proven to lift people out of hunger. If cuts to these programs take place at the levels proposed, it would be impossible for the charitable food system to make up the difference. Without this key support, millions of people throughout the US and many here in Vermont would go hungry.