THE BLOG
05/17/2013 12:14 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2013

Get Involved in Telling Congress: Don't Cut $20 Billion From SNAP!

I'm a hunger-fighter, seeing the escalation in need and here to ring the bell and call for all hands on deck!

As reported in The Huffington Post, the House Ag Committee voted to cut SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), by $20 billion over the next five years as part of the Farm Bill the House will vote on soon. If we do not act, our nation will pay many more billions in the future and this will lead to the decline of millions of lives.

I call on each of you to act IMMEDIATELY to help your fellow Americans. Our Congress must hear from us or 47 million SNAP recipients will see reduced benefits, including almost 1.5 million military and veteran families, according to VoteVets.org.

Schools are just about out for the summer which means an estimated 19 million children will be without school lunches, for many their only full meal in a day. Additionally, sequester cuts are just beginning to kick in and we don't know how deep they go yet but food pantries are already expressing angst and overwhelm of resources.

I wrote an open letter to my Colorado CD3 Rep. Scott Tipton that has appeared in The Daily Grand Junction Sentinel and The Aspen Times, which I've learned has inspired others to call and write letters.

My thoughts are best conveyed by giving you my letter as an example to use and adapt for your community/region's news editors:

Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to CD3 Representative Scott Tipton re: the proposed cuts to SNAP (food stamps), via the Farm Bills being introduced in the House and Senate.

I urge you Rep. Tipton, to please visit a food pantry before casting this critical vote and/or view the documentary, 'A Place at the Table', about the epic hunger issues millions are facing which features Collbran, a ranching community in your district.

Quoting Bread for the World;

"(The) Senate farm bill cuts $4.1 billion from SNAP, a cut that could result in thousands of households losing up to $90 a month in benefits. The proposed House farm bill is even more severe: $21 billion cut from SNAP. If enacted, the House bill would kick as many as 3 million people out of the program and deprive 280,000 school children of school meals. Additionally, thousands more households would see their monthly benefits reduced. This is in addition to the drop in benefits all SNAP households will see this fall when a temporary increase in benefits expires.".

Rep. Tipton -- this is appalling and morally wrong!

Two years ago the Child Nutrition Act was paid for in part, by taking $4.2 billion from SNAP. That's like robbing Peter of his dinner to pay for his son Paul's school lunch!

I'm a hunger-fighter seeing the effects of the recession ongoing among my neighbors and those tearful and embarrassed former community and business leaders I see at the back doors of our food pantries.

Two important facts were reported in our local media recently; our seven Lift Up food pantries experienced a 51 percent increase in demand in 2012 over 2011 AND we have 8,651 less jobs in the Roaring Fork Valley than prior to the 2008 implosion of the economy.

How does it make sense to take money for food away from your constituents who are trying to get back on their feet? The money goes right back into the economy!

According to Moody's economist Mark Zandi, SNAP has a stimulus effect of $1.73 for every dollar spent. He said that their study shows the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the SNAP/Food Stamp program. "If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it's very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need -- groceries..." You can view the very interesting stimulus comparison chart here.

It's estimated that 65 percent of people who qualify for SNAP have not applied. Forty seven percent of SNAP recipients are children. Hunger is a matter of national security!

Please study the food insecurity rates in the 29 counties of your district Rep. Tipton, in the Feeding America 'Map the Meal Gap' interactive map of every county in America.

One in 6 Americans endure hunger which translates to 122,368 of your hungry constituents who deserve to eat, sir.

Please remember to call, write, Tweet, post in Facebook, write your editors, use POPVOX, blog, make a video, whatever you have to do. I have learned from my own representatives that the two most effective methods they have of knowing how the public feels is through letters to editors and through POPVOX which allows them to see populated maps of the votes of their constituents as well as their comments and supporting/opposing organizations and views.

All of us know someone enduring hunger, too ashamed or proud to speak up for being considered as "one of those people." I've been sending Rep. Tipton videos I shot at food pantries and homeless shelters, where I learned about hungry one-income families who had a lot to say to Congress, members of the military and National Guard between deployments to war, homeless and eating at pantries, the DOJ guidelines for handling homeless people, and the spike in homeless teenagers due to parent's foreclosures.

We the People must be the voice for those who have none. This includes the millions who lost jobs and homes in the crash of the economy, our veterans and their families who've served us, our children who need a future and our seniors who are scrimping by.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

As Oscar-award winner, 30-year hunger fighter and No Kid Hungry spokesman Jeff Bridges says, "Charity is great for many things but not as a way to feed a nation." We must engage our leaders in Washington, D.C. in getting their moral compass back on axis.

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