Congressman Jim McGovern

Representing the 2nd District of Massachussetts
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McGovern: Republicans Pushing Cuts to Food Assistance for Needy Families Should Be Ready for “One Hell of a Fight”

Nov 16, 2016
Press Release
SNAP Helped Keep More Than 10 Million Out of Poverty in 2012, Including Nearly 5 Million Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), the top Democrat on the Nutrition Subcommittee, delivered a strong defense of the the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program.

Congressman McGovern said any House Republican pushing a dangerous plan to block grant, cut or limit access to the critical food assistance provided by SNAP to families in need should “be prepared for one hell of a fight,” saying that “this is a fight worth having.”

Today’s hearing was entitled: “The Past, Present, and Future of SNAP: Opportunities for Improving Access to Food” and is the 18th hearing on SNAP held by the Committee in just the 114th Congress.

Highlights of Congressman McGovern’s Opening Statement:

“We’ve learned that the SNAP program is a powerful tool for improving nutrition, insulating families against hardship, and lifting people out of poverty. It is effective, and it is efficiently run. The very modest benefit – which averages about $1.40 per person, per meal – helped to keep over 10 million people out of poverty in 2012, including almost 5 million children. 

“SNAP is working as intended.  Not once have we heard from our witnesses that block granting SNAP will reduce hunger or strengthen this program.  In fact, we’ve heard the opposite. And if we want to talk about improving access to food, we should be discussing ways to increase SNAP benefits.  If anything, the average benefit of $1.40 per person, per meal is too low. 

“We ought to find ways to increase access to food by piloting the use of SNAP benefits online, strengthening employment and training programs, expanding SNAP education, incentivizing the purchase of more nutritious foods. All of that would require an increased investment.  But I think the return on investment would be enormous.

“I have no idea what a Trump Administration coupled with a Republican Congress means for the future of SNAP and other safety net programs.

“The majority who benefit from SNAP are kids and senior citizens. These are good people; they are our neighbors.  And yet, too often, they are ridiculed, and their plight is belittled in the halls of this Congress. That is wrong.

“If next year, the Republican leadership wants to block grant or cut the program or put more hurdles in place to deny people a benefit to put food on their table – be prepared for one hell of a fight. Because this is a fight worth having.

“No one – and I mean no one – should go hungry in the United States of America.”

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Opening Statement:

“After 18 hearings, what have we learned?

“We’ve learned that the SNAP program is a powerful tool for improving nutrition, insulating families against hardship, and lifting people out of poverty.  It is effective, and it is efficiently run.

“The very modest benefit – which averages about $1.40 per person, per meal – helped to keep over 10 million people out of poverty in 2012, including almost 5 million children. 

“So when I reflect on lessons learned from our hearings on SNAP during the 114th Congress, I think about the overwhelmingly supportive testimony we have heard from witnesses about the structure of the SNAP program and its ability to reduce food insecurity among our most vulnerable constituents. 

“We’ve learned that charities do great work, but they can’t do it alone.

“We’ve learned that it’s a bad idea to radically change the SNAP program. It is working as intended.  Not once have we heard from our witnesses that block granting SNAP will reduce hunger or strengthen this program.  In fact, we’ve heard the opposite.  

“And if we want to talk about improving access to food, we should be discussing ways to increase SNAP benefits.  If anything, the average benefit of $1.40 per person, per meal is too low. 

“The Recovery Act temporarily increased SNAP benefits and we saw an increase in food expenditures by low-income households, a reduction in food insecurity, and improvements in diet quality, especially among children. 

“We ought to find ways to increase access to food by piloting the use of SNAP benefits online, strengthening employment and training programs, expanding SNAP education, incentivizing the purchase of more nutritious foods, we ought to address the issue of the “cliff,” among many other things.

“All of that would require an increased investment.  But I think the return on investment would be enormous.

“I have no idea what a Trump Administration coupled with a Republican Congress means for the future of SNAP and other safety net programs.

“Quite frankly, I am worried. I spend a lot of time on this stuff. I spend a lot of time with people on SNAP. They don’t fit a stereotype. Many are unemployed – and many work. The majority who benefit from SNAP are kids and senior citizens. 

“These are good people; they are our neighbors.  And yet, too often, they are ridiculed, and their plight is belittled in the halls of this Congress. That is wrong.

“So, after 18 hearings, we have learned, from both majority and minority witnesses, that SNAP is not only a good program, but a very good program. It works.

“And, if next year, the Republican leadership wants to block grant or cut the program or put more hurdles in place to deny people a benefit to put food on their table – be prepared for one hell of a fight. Because this is a fight worth having.

“No one – and I mean no one – should go hungry in the United States of America.”

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