Tennessee faith and anti-hunger leaders applaud Senate Farm Bill passage

June 9, 2018 / Author: Madison Wall

United Way & Tennessee Justice Center Joint Press Release: 

With the recent passage of the House Farm Bill (H.R. 2) that proposes severe cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), we are encouraged that Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander rejected an amendment that would have taken away food assistance from many Tennesseans. Although neither Senator voted in favor of the bipartisan Senate bill, their actions against this amendment show that Congress is moving in the right direction for Tennessee. This issue is now more important than ever because the House and Senate passed different versions of the bill and must work out a version that both houses will accept by September 30th. If harmful provisions in H.R. 2 make it into the final farm bill, food security would be undermined for over a million Tennesseans that currently rely on SNAP.

On June 25, 2018, United Ways of Tennessee, Tennessee Justice Center, and 27 other organizations from across the state sent a letter to all Tennessee Senators and Representatives urging them to prevent malnutrition in Tennessee by protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is the nation’s primary law that governs food and agricultural programs. The House and Senate passed different versions and must now work out a version that both houses will accept.

The letter notes that SNAP works for Tennessee by helping more than one in six Tennesseans – children, older adults, adults with disabilities, and the working poor – put food on the table. SNAP also has a big economic impact: it provides one out of every eight dollars spent on groceries in Tennessee and generates an estimated $150 million in demand for Tennessee agricultural products. The organizations encouraged Tennessee’s congressional delegation to move beyond the harmful policies proposed in the House Farm Bill (H.R.2) and adopt the Senate’s favorable provisions. Mary Graham, president of United Ways of Tennessee, said, “Many children and families in our state would go hungry without SNAP. We commend Congress for ensuring those without resources can purchase food, which is good for our communities and our economy.”

“SNAP plays an important role in helping working families and ensuring the health of Tennessee’s workforce,” said Madison Wall, nutrition advocate at the Tennessee Justice Center. “Congress can strengthen that role by investing in job training programs and maintaining state flexibility in program administration.”

“SNAP is Tennessee’s most effective short-term relief program in the fight against hunger,” Wall said. SNAP lifts over a quarter of a million Tennesseans, including 116,000 children, out of poverty each year.

United Ways of Tennessee and the Tennessee Justice Center commend Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander for rejecting an amendment that would have taken away food assistance from many Tennesseans and imposed burdensome requirements on SNAP participants and our state. As the House and Senate now turn to negotiating a final version of the farm bill in conference, we urge our leaders to continue standing up for Tennesseans by working with their colleagues to ensure that the final version also protects SNAP.