As we all prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we invite you to read this blog post and take a simple action (see below) to keep your community healthy and keep “the least among us” nourished.
Nearly one in six Tennesseans is unsure of where their next meal will come from. The faces of hunger include new widows suddenly scraping by with a single Social Security check, families with parents working two jobs and still struggling to make ends meet, and the brave men and women who have served our country. If you have helped out at a soup kitchen, donated food to a food drive, or delivered meals on wheels, you get it.
What you might not know is that Federal programs – SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), school meals, and more – make up 95% of food assistance in our nation. Don’t get us wrong, charities are incredibly important. The point is that they can only do their job because of effective and efficient (though underfunded) publicly-funded nutrition program infrastructure that we have built up over the last five decades through strong bipartisan support. If we didn’t have SNAP, the meal gap charities already struggle to fill would increase to four times what it is now.
These federal programs don’t just serve the hungry and bolster the work of charities. They deliver a nearly $2.5 billion stimulus to the state economy every year, create jobs in rural communities, and help keep our farmers growing. And they save money and prevent unnecessary suffering. According to a Bread for the World report, poverty-related hunger leads to $160 billion per year in avoidable healthcare costs and lost productivity. Without federal nutrition programs, this amount would almost surely skyrocket.
Perhaps the most important point to drive home is that during the recession, people who had worked hard their whole lives and never dreamed of using Federal nutrition programs, like SNAP, suddenly found themselves doing just that. It could happen to any of us. If we had capped the funding for SNAP at 2007 levels, the program would have been able to meet half the need during the height of the recession. Our Federal nutrition program infrastructure is our collective assurance that not one American should know the scourge of hunger. We must keep it strong.
That brings us to our request. You have probably seen in the news that Congress is debating tax reform. You may have heard that these reforms include tax cuts that will increase our national deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. There are a lot of reasons that increasing our national debt is a short-sighted policy. One of those is that it will force us to make impossible decisions down the road. Without exaggeration, we could find ourselves as a nation having to choose whether seniors or children will get to eat. Tax policy is complex, but choosing to keep our nation fiscally sound and able to ensure every person is ableto meet basic needs is a simple choice.
Now is the time to contact Senators Alexander and Corker to share your own story. Share from the heart. As these things apply to your experience, share about hunger in your community and the importance of Federal nutrition programs (and other Federal programs) to people you know. Share about how we cannot afford to increase the deficit when we know there is still so much need and that anyone of us could fall on hard times.
An email is good, a phone call is great, setting up a call or meeting with a district staffer is SPECTACULAR! The Senate will be talking taxes right after Thanksgiving weekend so the sooner you reach out the better. Give us a call if you have questions – Keith Barnes, 615-846-4716. We are thankful for your commitment to keeping our nation strong and fiscally sound.
Senator Alexander Contact Info
Senator Corker Contact Info