Deacon Diane Riley of Diocese of Newark says that the state’s food banks cannot make up for the $90 million annual cuts in SNAP benefits. The advocacy director of the Community FoodBank says that these cuts will affect 873,000 people — 10 percent of the population of New Jersy, the vast majority being children, elderly or the working poor.
Cuts to the U.S. food stamp program will mean 1.9 billion fewer meals for hungry Americans in 2014. That’s more than half the number of meals the country’s food banks already are expected to serve. If House Republicans succeed in cutting $40 billion more from the program over the next decade, another 1.5 billion meals will be wiped out.
Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program thinned the monthly food budgets for 47 million Americans. Many will ask a local food pantry to help fill the gap. At the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, calls for help are up 50 percent this month.
Further SNAP cuts will overwhelm the nonprofit food banks. Charity can’t be a long-term replacement for government safety nets. In New Jersey, cuts totaled $90 million a year and reduced monthly allowances for 873,000 people — 10 percent of the state, the vast majority being children, elderly or the working poor.
“We can’t make up the slack for that,” says Diane Riley, the Community FoodBank’s advocacy director.
Food banks are built to help solve temporary emergency hardships such as job loss or illness. Should they be expected to fill in when the government decides to save money by letting people go hungry?