We went to Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago. We were there to attend a learning conference, but also wanted to make sure we used that time to drop in on our local legislators. Now, many might wonder what we could say concerning the food bank, and that's a great question.
We first let them know what we are seeing in their district. I think sometimes Washington does not know what is happening over 1,000 miles away. I think it is easy for legislators to get engrossed in the political climate of Washington, that they just simply do not have enough time to be on the ground in front of their constituents. I am not faulting them for this, because there are only so many hours in the day. They also might hear about the economy rebounding based on some key determiners, but they may not know if the economy is recovering back home. We gave them the key numbers that are indicative of what we are seeing. We were there to represent the 71,000 people we reach each month.
We have a vested interest in food assistance programs, both directly and indirectly. Indirectly SNAP (food stamps) is a governmental program that helps people who struggle to put enough healthy food on their family's table. It's a supplement, but unfortunately with the economy, many families are depending on it more than ever. The talk around Washington is that they need to cut 4 billion from that program. It is cited that there is an exponential growth of the program. In response to the recession, the program is doing its job.
Cuts to TEFAP, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, directly affect us. How? We
receive food through this program. In the thick of last summer's donation slump, it accounted for more than 40% of our total inventory. Cuts to this program, when we're in an unprecedented high demand, would be catastrophic to many families right in our own backyards.
I am sure you can see the potential for the"perfect storm" that could come out of this situation. If SNAP is cut, more people will depend on us. If TEFAP is cut, we potentially won't have the food, because food donations are down.
What can you do? Well, you can call your congressman, and tell them this:
"I am a constituent in your district. When it comes to writing the Farm Bill for 2012, I am asking you to protect Food assistance programs: SNAP, CSFP, and TEFAP. These programs play an integral role in ensuring that your constituents are not going hungry. Also, thanks to these programs working as they should in these tough economic times, my local Food Bank _____________(put the name of your food bank) is keeping up, but cuts would make it nearly impossible. Thank you for your time."
Mac Thornberry: (202) 225-3706
Randy Neugebauer: 1(888) 763-1611