“As Congress currently debates a new Farm Bill, it’s critical that we do not miss this opportunity to help steer our nation’s agriculture and nutrition policy in the right direction. There are many important issues being discussed as part of the new legislation, but the most pressing concern is the possible cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program, formerly known as food stamps.

“Hunger is a growing problem in our communities. In December 2010, enrollment in SNAP topped 1.8 million in New York City and has remained at this historically high level since. SNAP is a critical safety net for nearly one in every five New Yorkers but for many, benefits run out before the end of the month, forcing families to rely on emergency food programs that are already stretched beyond capacity. Despite the level of need and the benefits that SNAP provides – not just in our city but across the country – the Senate approved a proposal to cut $4.1 billion from the program last week, and this week, the House is set to start debating plans to cut $20 billion.

“If included in the final bill, these cuts will have a devastating impact on New York City residents. Besides helping families put food on the table and giving children the chance to receive a balanced diet, SNAP also helps to stimulate our local economy, as every $1 in benefits generates $1.80 in economic activity that supports our neighborhood supermarkets, corner stores and farmers’ markets. In April, we sent a letter along with our Council colleagues to Congress and the New York State delegation, telling them that funding for SNAP should be increased – not slashed. We are again calling on Congress to do the right thing by our children and families and protect this vital program.”