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Andrew Morehouse: Get involved during National Hunger Action Month

To the editor:

The U.S. House of Representatives on Aug. 1 began consideration of a nutrition-only bill that includes $40 billion in cuts over ten years to SNAP (formerly food stamps). This is nearly double the amount of cuts included in a farm bill that was defeated in June at the committee level.

This drastic measure is alarming. It will eliminate food assistance for millions of Americans — predominantly elders and households with children — who are already struggling to put food on their tables in this new “normal’ economy of underemployment and stagnant wages.

Fortunately, our entire Massachusetts congressional delegation (all 8 of them) has signed onto a House letter sponsored by Rep. James McGovern calling for no cuts to SNAP.

Unfortunately, more than 135,000 people across the four counties of Western Mass. rely on food that comes to them from The Food Bank through 300 local feeding programs — pantries, meal sites, shelters and other social service programs. Without adequate SNAP funding, our region’s emergency food network would literally be overwhelmed by vulnerable households seeking food assistance. As it stands now, more than 166,000 individuals receive SNAP benefits, providing essential income to put food on their tables. Not only does SNAP support individuals, but it also has a tremendous economic impact on local businesses and jobs. SNAP benefits total more than $241 million annually in our region alone, generating $444 million in total economic activity.

At The Food Bank, we believe everyone has a right to healthy food regardless of their circumstances. We carry out our mission through emergency food distribution, SNAP outreach and enrollment, nutrition education and supporting local agriculture such as local farmers markets that accept SNAP. To be successful, we know that we must also raise community awareness and foster action to promote food security. Join us by visiting our website (www.foodbankwma.org) to learn how you can get involved this September during National Hunger Action Month.

Andrew Morehouse

Hatfield

Executive director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

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