September 17, 2013 letter to House Members from AARP CEO A. Barry Rand
AARP opposes HR 3102, “The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013,” especially the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and we urge you to vote against it. The new House nutrition bill retains the provisions opposed by AARP and other anti-hunger advocates in earlier House Farm Bill efforts while adding more stringent conditions to discourage participation in SNAP and generate cost savings that will harm millions of documented hungry and food insecure Americans.
Removal of the nutrition title of the Farm Bill represents an abandonment of the nation’s commitment to ensuring essential nutrition access for many U.S. households that face a constant struggle against hunger and food insecurity daily, as well as emergency food assistance in times of economic and natural crises or disasters. SNAP helps states and communities struck by disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes gain access to critical food assistance where local supplies have been destroyed or rendered inaccessible. Along with helping low-income persons eat healthier, more nutritious food, the nutrition programs also benefit the economy. For example, every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9 – nearly twice as much – in total community spending.
The recent economic recession is testimony to the importance of the Farm Bill nutrition programs in providing food to assistance for families that would have otherwise gone without food. Indeed, the major criticism of SNAP is that the program is too successful in responding to the increased need for assistance in difficult economic times. Despite SNAP having reduced error rates and fraud to levels that are the envy of every other major federal program, the House of Representatives in now proposing to significantly reduce its commitment to ensuring that food insecure households will have adequate access to food based on objective need. AARP believes any outdated rules that encourage waste or fraud should be addressed, but not at the expense of legitimately hungry families – which disproportionately include children, seniors and persons with disabilities.
Hungry children, seniors and families cannot and should not have to wait on the economic and political sidelines for access to an effective nutrition safety net. The slow economy, higher prices for food and energy, and the impending November 1, 2013 elimination of the SNAP benefit boost from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) have made the situation acute for all concerned. Indeed, the amount provided to feed the typical family is projected to drop from about $4.50 to less than $4.00 per meal — a scheduled reduction regardless of the outcome of this legislation. We urge you not to punish food insecure Americans, and to vote against HR 3102.
A. Barry Rand
Chief Executive Officer