Why We Must Restore the SNAP Cuts

It is good policy to help those who are poor, struggling and hungry.

Yet, the new Farm Bill that was recently passed in Washington is among the most short-sighted and regressive pieces of legislation we have seen in a long time.

By cutting more than $8 billion from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) -- better known as food stamps -- we are harming the most vulnerable among us. This includes children, single parents, seniors and the homeless.

According to the New York City Food Policy Center, nearly one in five New York residents rely on SNAP. That is almost 2 million people. Additionally, 63 percent of the city's food pantries and soup kitchens reported shortages, while reporting an overall 10 percent increase in demand.

The Farm Bill -- in some cases -- will reduce SNAP assistance by $90 a month for nearly one million households. When you're on the margins and struggling to get by, $1,080 a year goes a long way.

When you've been laid off from your job or had your meager retirement savings decimated by the stock market crash of 2008 then $1,080 really goes a long way. That is money that is used for necessities like fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy and meat.

The problem is particularly acute in New York City where the economic recovery after the "Great Recession" is not reaching many parts of the city. New York City Coalition Against Hunger data indicates that one in five children lived in food insecure homes between 2010 and 2012, where there are multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

In the name of austerity and belt-tightening, Congress is ignoring one of its principal duties and targeting the working poor and homeless.

The Farm Bill, which is being hailed as a bi-partisan compromise, is uncompromising in its treatment of poor children and seniors struggling on Social Security.

If our leaders in Washington want to really show leadership, they should reinstate the $8 billion cut from SNAP.