Bread for the World Calls for More Help for Hungry Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2008
3:01 PM

CONTACT: Bread for the World
Bill Malone 202-464-8180 bmalone@bread.org
Shawnda Hines 301-960-4913 shines@bread.org

 
Bread for the World Calls for More Help for Hungry Families
 

WASHINGTON, DC - May 7 - In his testimony this morning to the members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Bread for the World president David Beckmann said that a short-term solution is needed immediately to address rising food prices in the U.S. Download a copy of the testimony .

“A stimulus package should include funding to provide an immediate boost in food stamp benefit levels to help struggling families meet today’s rising food prices, additional WIC funding to ensure that all eligible women and children continue to receive benefits, and additional funding for TEFAP so that food banks can help families weather higher food prices,” he said.

Rev. Beckmann asserted that the impact of rising food prices should not be viewed in isolation, rather, as one in a long list of increasing costs for basic needs, such as housing, childcare, healthcare and fuel, which, compounded by the decrease in income from stagnant wages and higher unemployment, have no doubt increased both poverty and hunger in our country.

“It’s clear that food prices have gone up, as have many of the most basic goods and services purchased by low-income families. The increase in expenses will require a response that mitigates these costs in the short term and strengthens a family’s economic stability and capacity to respond to financial fluctuations in the long term,” he said. “While I look forward to working with you on developing the second phase of this strategy, there should be no delay implementing the first: providing immediate relief for these families by strengthening our food assistance programs.”

Enrollment in the Food Stamp Program jumped considerably in the last year, in part because of higher food prices. A total of 28 million now receive food stamps each month; it is expected to reach as high as 29 million. Participation in other programs is expected to rise as well. When food costs go up, the purchasing power of the monthly food stamp benefit is diminished – families buy less food with the benefit they are given. Even before the recent spike in prices, food stamp participants were routinely reporting that their benefits lasted only into the third week of the month.

Beckmann applauded the additional $10.361 billion in investments in the nutrition title made in the farm bill, the authorizing legislation for U.S. food assistance programs, which is now before Congress.

He also called for additional reforms in the farm bill. Rev. Beckmann said that changing the United States’ commodity payment system would also free up money to better support struggling farm and rural families of modest means. It will also provide help to low-income Americans struggling with the convergence of a weak economy and rising food prices.

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. www.bread.org

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