Fiscal Cliff Deal Cuts SNAP-Ed, Critical Nutrition Program
STATEMENT BY MATTHEW MARSOM, VICE PRESIDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY & ADVOCACY
“The last-minute political maneuvering by Congress to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ has undercut a critical nutrition program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed). The Public Health Institute is extremely disappointed and concerned about the health impacts of this rushed decision on our most vulnerable population, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
“The American Taxpayer Relief Act, passed Tuesday by the Senate and House of Representatives and sent to the president for his signature, tacked on an extension of major farm programs through fiscal 2013 in an effort to protect milk pricing. But the enormous down-to-the-wire pressure to prevent tax hikes for the middle class left little room for a substantive discussion of the fine print of the farm bill extension deal. In the process, SNAP-Ed, a federal/state partnership that supports nutrition education for persons eligible for food stamps, was slashed by one-third for 2013. Earlier versions of the Farm Bill had never included or considered cuts to SNAP-Ed, and this last minute cut was never vetted or approved by the Agriculture Committees.
“SNAP-Ed helps low-income Americans make healthy choices on a limited budget, reduces their risk of chronic disease and obesity, and optimizes the economic and nutritional value of SNAP benefits. SNAP-Ed programming has proven that investment in nutrition education can enable SNAP to effectively address the dual challenges of improving nutrition and food security among low-income populations. This funding cut to the program undermines and weakens a critical component of our nationwide efforts to promote healthy eating and prevent chronic disease just as investments to prevent obesity and promote healthy eating are beginning to show results.
“Prior to the fiscal cliff process, a reasonable farm bill package was being negotiated. Though imperfect, it reflected the input of farmers and rural America, anti-hunger advocates and the public health community. As the new Congress faces a reauthorization of the farm bill in September, political pressure and time constraints must not trump common sense and evidence: SNAP-Ed must have full funding restored and protected, ensuring that all Americans, particularly those who are most vulnerable, can make the healthiest decisions when feeding their families.”