Clergy Farm Bill Sign-On Letter

Protect SNAP and the millions of Americans who cannot feed their families without it.

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Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have released a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislation that provides structure and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the cornerstone of our nation’s nutrition safety net.

 

SNAP is America's most important anti-hunger program. It protects against hunger and lifts millions of people out of poverty. It was crafted by bipartisan Congressional leadership and has worked effectively for over 50 years.

 

Now there are efforts underway in the Farm Bill to decimate this program and dramatically increase hunger in America. Thinly disguised in the language of “reform,” these proposals seek to vilify the poor and reduce the number of people on SNAP without regard for the consequences to those impacted by these harsh and severe cuts. There is a real threat that such plans could advance, irreparably weakening the structure and funding of SNAP and causing millions to suffer needlessly.

 

MAZON invites Jewish clergy from across the nation to join us in calling on lawmakers to protect SNAP and the millions of American families whose lives depend on it.

 

We—the undersigned rabbis and cantors—are united in our belief that we have an obligation to take care of the most vulnerable among us. We join MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger in calling for the protection of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the Farm Bill.

We are concerned about harmful proposals in the Farm Bill that would restrict SNAP eligibility by imposing arbitrary work requirements upon people who simply need help putting food on the table. In particular, these unprecedented changes will harm older Americans, who face unique challenges reentering the workforce. Between age discrimination and the scarcity of effective training programs, getting a new job is much harder for older Americans and takes significantly longer. These policies will have real impacts on real people, and fail to take into account the realities of their situation.

Such proposals are at odds with the teachings of our faith.

In Leviticus, we are commanded to leave the corners of our fields and the gleanings of our harvest and vineyards for the poor and the stranger. This commandment is a clear expression of our collective responsibility for each other. It reminds us that we are not to judge those who are poor, nor should we assume to know the circumstances of their lives. Its wisdom respects the dignity of all by empowering individuals to decide what they need, not presuming to know what’s best for them.

More than 40 million American men, women, and children struggle to put food on the table on a regular basis. While charitable organizations play a vital role in addressing hunger, we know that the overwhelming majority of food assistance in this country has historically come from—and must continue to come from—federal programs.

The Farm Bill must protect against hunger by strengthening SNAP, the cornerstone of our nation’s nutrition safety net. It must ensure access to affordable, nutritious food for vulnerable populations that too often struggle, including seniors, single mothers, veterans, currently-serving military families, Native Americans, and college students. At the most basic level, the Farm Bill should contribute to the goal of ending hunger in America, not add to the problem.

Jewish text and tradition compel us to honor the dignity of every person, especially those who are struggling. No matter a person’s circumstance, no one deserves to be hungry.

We call on Congress to ensure that the Farm Bill lives up to its historical promise and protects SNAP and the millions of Americans who must rely on it.

Signed,