The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill, is cruel and reinforces the vitriolic partisan rhetoric from ‘leaders’ in Washington D.C. who play politics with the lives of real people.
Take their proposal to subject people between 50 and 59 years of age to work requirements in order to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Who will this impact? Veterans who served bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and women who worked all their lives, but live in communities where economic recovery has failed to materialize. Parents laid off from manufacturing jobs due to plant closures.
Why aren’t they working? Not for lack of trying. Between age discrimination and scarcity of effective training programs, getting a new job is more difficult and takes longer for older Americans. This proposal gives them one month to find a job or access a training program before losing benefits. Research shows the average length of unemployment among job seekers 55 and older was over 54 weeks, five months longer than their younger counterparts.
U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and his Republican colleagues want to reclassify SNAP as a workforce development program in an ideologically driven bid to vilify the poor and kick people off the program. They don’t want to help people lift themselves out of poverty; they want to reduce the number of people on SNAP without regard for the consequences to those impacted by these harsh and severe cuts.
SNAP is the nation’s frontline defense against food insecurity. SNAP’s purpose has always been to provide a modicum of stability to prevent people who have fallen on hard times from starving.
Jewish text and tradition compel us to honor the dignity of every person, especially those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. We urge Congress to ensure a 2018 Farm Bill that honors its bipartisan history and to cease efforts to undermine SNAP by rejecting proposals that will bring real harm to real people who struggle.
About MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Inspired by Jewish values and ideals, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. Learn more about MAZON’s 2018 Farm Bill Priorities at mazon.org.