In the last few days, the House of Representatives and the President released their proposed funding cuts for the 2011 and 2012 federal budgets respectively. In addition to proposed cuts to nutrition programs beginning this year, the proposed cuts to other safety net programs will affect millions of low-income people, making it more difficult for them to feed themselves and their families.
For too many low-income Americans, making ends meet is a constant struggle. When forced to make tough decisions about where they'll spend their limited incomes, people often choose to forego buying groceries because having to skip a few meals is less severe than the consequences of not paying for rent, electricity, transportation or medicine.
Programs like the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (which primarily aids low-income seniors) and the WIC program (which serves low-income mothers and their young children), make sure that our most vulnerable citizens have the nutrition they need. Cuts to these nutrition programs would come at the same time as funding cuts to other safety net programs, forcing families to dip much further into their food budgets to cover their other household expenses like shelter or child care.
The result will be a greater level of need among the people Feeding America food banks are already serving, as well as a new population of clientele who will lose the support of the programs that had been keeping them financially afloat.
Feeding America food banks see this happen often, especially now, when states are cutting social service programs to scale back their own strained budget. Cuts to the safety net programs have reverberations across the lives of low-income families and will likely make it even harder for food banks to keep up with the unprecedented need they are seeing in their communities.
As Congress and the Obama Administration make difficult decisions this year about our national priorities and funding for the federal budget, it's imperative that the needs of low-income Americans be prioritized in those debates.
Our nation must not balance the budget on the backs of its most vulnerable citizens. Feeding America urges our nation's leaders to address the budget deficit while safeguarding programs that protect America's low-income families.