Over Two Dozen Members of Congress Protest SNAP Cuts, Live on Food Budget of $4.50/day

June 14, 2013
Contact: Carrie Adams (202) 225-2661 (Lee)

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Washington, D.C.— In protest over the more than $20 billion in cuts proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the 2014 Farm Bill, over two dozen Members of Congress have announced that they have committed to living on the food budget of an average SNAP recipient, just $4.50 a day. Members have been blogging, tweeting, and publicizing their efforts using #SNAPChallenge.
Several members who have been participating in the challenge provided the following statements:

“The more than $20 billion in proposed cuts to SNAP are unconscionable and unacceptable. When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance, and I would not be  where I am today if it weren’t for the vital lifeline that the American people extended to me. SNAP is the difference between food on the table and a child going to bed hungry. I’m so encouraged by all my colleagues who are joining me for the SNAP Challenge, and I encourage folks from across the country to get engaged and join the chorus voicing opposition to these outrageous cuts.”  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)

“As we consider the Farm Bill, Congress should be taking steps to strengthen the food stamp program, not destroy it. For millions of New Yorkers, this assistance means the difference between putting food on the table or going to bed hungry. I’ll be participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, keeping my spending on meals to under the average food stamp benefit, to highlight just how hard it is to stretch these dollars and how deeper cuts being proposed by the Republican majority will literally take food away from families." Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-14)

“Cutting $20.5 billion from the SNAP program, as the House Farm Bill would do, is wrong-headed, mean-spirited and cruel.  I would hope that the members of the House who support those cuts would take the SNAP Challenge, and walk in the shoes – if only for a few days – of the Americans who struggle to feed their families.” Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-2)

“Taking the SNAP Challenge in previous years has not been easy, even for only one week.  We do not walk in the shoes of the poor and unemployed, but it is not too much to ask members of Congress to sit at their table to eat for a week before we allow Congress to slash the last resort for sustenance for millions of Americans.” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

“Far too many Americans continue to struggle just to feed themselves and their families. And yet House Republicans have proposed $20 billion in cuts to food stamps, which help the neediest among us. Participating in this challenge will provide me some insight into the struggle so many Americans face and I hope will highlight why we should not cut the program.” Congressman Sander Levin (MI-09)

"Food assistance fulfills a promise we make to each other: if you fall on hard times, your neighbors, friends, and fellow Americans will help you get a meal. These families live in our communities and their children are our kids’ classmates.  Nearly half of all Minnesotans who receive food assistance are children.  Eight in ten of them live below the poverty line, meaning they are from families. It's time we strengthened, not cut, food assistance." Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05)

“My colleagues claim that these devastating cuts are needed to reduce the federal debt. However, every major deficit reduction packaged signed into law over the last thirty years has always been negotiated according to the principle of not increasing poverty or inequality.”  Congressman John Conyers (MI-13)

“According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Texas has the 9th highest food hardship rate in the country. This is why I support programs like SNAP which serves more than 1.6 million Texas households. The SNAP program provides a vital lifeline to combat childhood obesity, provides nutritious eating options for disadvantaged households, and ensures we eliminate the nation’s food deserts.” Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33)

“SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans families who cannot afford to eat without this modest assistance. That’s why the proposal by House Republican Leadership to slash funding for SNAP is so unconscionable,” Congressman Huffman said. “We need Congress to understand what these cruel austerity measures mean on a personal level rather than a generic statistical sample, which is why I’m taking the SNAP Challenge next week and trying to live off of the average SNAP recipient’s $4.50 a day.” Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02)

“Today almost 50 million Americans live with the insecurity of never knowing if they will be able to afford their next meal.  For these Americans, the SNAP program is a lifeline that ensures children have enough food to grow, that underpaid and underemployed workers have the means to feed their families, and that seniors don’t have to choose between food and medicine.  Incomprehensibly, House Republican leadership’s answer to these families is to propose a staggering $20 billion cut from the SNAP program.  Feeding a family on SNAP is difficult as it is, it would become virtually impossible if these cuts are implemented.  That is why I am taking the SNAP Challenge to promote awareness for hunger and highlight the importance of this critical program.”  Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6)

“In the wealthiest nation in human history, it is unconscionable that every American cannot afford life’s basic necessities. I am proud join my colleagues participating in the SNAP challenge. Every member of Congress should know what it’s like to live on $4.50 per day, to know the pain of going to bed hungry, and to understand the full gravity of the decisions we make. When you take food off of the plates of hungry children, you have a moral obligation to understand the consequences.” Congressman Jim Langevin (RI-02)

“Despite our recent economic gains, many low-income and middle class families are still struggling to get by. At a time when hunger is on the rise, and nearly half of all Americans are living in poverty or just a paycheck away from it, the notion that nutritional assistance belongs on the chopping block is outrageous. The Food Stamp Challenge gives members of Congress the opportunity to experience for themselves the reality that SNAP is not an overly extravagant program, but a modest safeguard that protects millions of Americans from hunger.” Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21)

“Sometimes the best way to understand another person’s challenges is to spend some time walking in their shoes. While I will live on $4.50 a day for seven days, we cannot forget that millions of families survive on this and less every day, every week, for months at a time,” Pocan said. “For these Americans, millions of whom are children, SNAP is an indispensable lifeline. We need to protect this critical program from the Republicans’ reckless cuts that would leave millions without adequate resources to feed themselves and their families.” Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-2)

“With these deep cuts to nutrition programs being proposed, it’s important for elected officials to recognize the hardship millions of Americans face every day as they attempt to feed their families.  By living off such a limited budget, I hope to gain a better understanding of how difficult it is for many of my constituents to avoid hunger and try to meet nutritional needs.” Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05)

“As a longtime supporter of food pantries and hunger prevention, I am outraged by the proposed $20 billion cut to SNAP. This cut would be devastating to the more than 2 million Illinois residents who rely on SNAP benefits just to put food on the table.  I am participating in the challenge to stand in solidarity with my constituents who depend on SNAP and to call attention to the need to fight these irresponsible cuts.” Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02)

“I’m humbled to be joining so many of my colleagues in the SNAP challenge. The SNAP program provides crucial support to families in New Mexico and across the country that continue to struggle to make ends meet,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Even with SNAP benefits, it’s a challenge to satisfy the nutritional needs of an individual or a family. But without these benefits, just getting by would be absolutely impossible for the one in five New Mexicans who rely on SNAP for basic nutrition and economic security. Although it’s going to be difficult to eat on just $4.50 a day, I cannot imagine what life must be like for families who have to go through this exercise week after week or even month after month.” Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)

“I think a lot of people have a misperception that being on food stamps is somehow a gravy train,” said Johnson. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s hard to find nutritional food on such a limited budget, and I know I won’t be able to eat three meals a day on the food I purchased for the challenge. Taking the challenge not only highlights hunger in our country, it also gives me a better understanding of the daily reality of millions of Americans and just how limited their nutrition options are.”  Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04)

“It’s critically important to raise awareness and stand up for the millions of families, children and seniors across the country who rely on nutrition assistance programs by ensuring our safety net is adequately funded. Participating in this SNAP challenge is a way to highlight the struggle many people and working families are facing today and to call attention of the need for these life-saving programs.” Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01)

Click HERE for a full list of members who are participating in the SNAP Challenge.

Click HERE to see the Storify account of news and social media activity.


Follow Barbara Lee on Facebook and Twitter at @RepBarbaraLee. To learn more, visit lee.house.gov.