Food Bank Warns Against Cuts

Jan 17, 2018

President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal last year called for a 25% cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.  As members of Congress talk about ways to cut the federal budget, one local food bank leader says that even a 10% cut would hurt those in need. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank distributes food for about 22 million meals a year across 25 Virginia counties and eight cities. But nationwide, SNAP provides ten times as much food assistance as do food banks.

That’s according to Blue Ridge Area Food Bank CEO Michael McKee. He said SNAP is “one of the most efficient federal programs” and provides needed assistance to many of the people who also frequent food pantries. McKee is worried about proposals in Congress to cut funding for SNAP.

MICHAEL MCKEE: The idea, according to some members of Congress, is, “Well, we want to be sure to help those who need it, but we don’t want to be providing benefits to those who really don’t.”

A statement on the Republican-led House Committee on Agriculture SNAP website says that “Churches, food banks, and other local organizations are simply better equipped than the federal government in some areas.”  But McKee said that scaling up to meet greatly increased demands from cuts is something that food banks and the pantry networks they supply aren’t able to do.

Funding cuts would also deal a blow to grocery retailers, where SNAP benefits are spent, he said.

MCKEE: It is one of the most misguided policy recommendations I’ve seen come out of Congress in the last year, and that’s saying something.