Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a budget resolution that would dramatically cut federal funding for critical programs that support our children, families and communities. Many of these programs work together to help families fill critical gaps so they can put food on the table, secure housing and make ends meet. Together, these programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), seek to help families get out and stay out of poverty—and see impressive results.
SNAP helps families living in low-income households afford the food they need to make it through the week. Parents shouldn’t have to decide between paying rent, heating their home and putting food on the table, and this limited support provides modest help. In Maine, over 67,000 or one in four children depends on SNAP to stay healthy and hunger-free. The rate is even higher in the more rural areas of our state with almost 40 percent of children in some counties relying on this critical program. As a result, massive cuts to the program would hurt children, especially those living in rural Maine.
When children have regular access to healthy food, they are better able to play learn and grow. They can focus on being kids rather than being hungry. Hunger-free children are more likely to do better in school, graduate on time and experience positive health outcomes compare to their peers who are food insecure. Fortunately, SNAP works for so many children and families. Research shows that SNAP has been effective in providing pathways out of poverty and linked with improving health outcomes for children.
Proposed cuts to SNAP would devastate Maine children and families.
However, although SNAP is a state-administered program, it runs entirely on federal funding, which is why the proposed budget cut is both reckless and concerning. Over the next ten years, a cut of $140 billion – a cut of 40 percent – would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the program and threaten the health and well-being of Maine children and families. SNAP is a critical lifeline for many Mainers and has a track record of success. If Congress is committed to reducing the number of children and families living in poverty, then it ought to strengthen programs that are already doing this important work.
Children and families are the core of communities across the entire state. When our children and families have the resources, support and opportunity they need to be active participants in our community, we all thrive.
Providing proper funding for effective anti-poverty programs only makes us stronger.