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Editorial: Congress shouldn’t cut food programs that benefit the poor

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In response to cruel budget cuts approved by Congress last week that will slash necessary food programs for the poor, Cabrini students are striving to educate the campus by foregoing food on Sunday, April 29. In partnership with faculty and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), students will participate in the fast to stand in solidarity with those who suffer from hunger and lend gravity to an issue that needs immediate attention.

The Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives passed the contentious cuts. If approved in the final U.S. budget, the cuts would take billions of dollars in food aid from poor people in the United States.

The committee hopes to reduce the budget by slashing benefits from the largest nutrition assistance program in the United States. The Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program (SNAP), better known historically as The Food Stamp Program, is to face a $133 billion decrease in funding over the next decade if Republicans have their say. But this program has proven to be a vital resource for families whose monthly earnings after allowable deductions total anywhere from $2,500 or less for a family of six or just over $1,500 for a family of three.

The effects of these cuts are massive: over 46 million Americans receive benefits from SNAP alone, 49 percent of whom are children age 17 or under – and just under half of these children come from single-parent households earning a little over $900 per month. Without this federally funded food assistance program, this means that approximately 15 percent of Americans will go hungry, including over one-third of American children. If we do not support the vulnerable, how can we then expect them to rise out of their situations and achieve the point of self-sufficiency and contribution?

We on the Loquitur editorial staff do not endorse these cuts, especially as empathetic students who advocate against social injustices. There is no tangible justification for allowing almost 23 million children to become vulnerable to world-shaking realities such as malnutrition and hunger. How can children be the hope for the future if we as a country cannot protect their basic rights for survival?

Our knowledge of these issues extends beyond domestic borders. We realize that this budget cut is only one of many that stand in the way of an equal distribution of resources. As the presidential election approaches, we acknowledge that now, more than ever, it’s imperative to look at an issue of this magnitude within a context devoted not only to our domestic policies, but also to our global and international diplomacy.

We commend the students organizing and participating in the FoodFast event that our collegiate chapter of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is holding for 10 hours on Sunday, April 29. It is imperative to educate oneself on the extensive issues that surround global poverty. As citizens of an interconnected world, we all have a responsibility to alleviate the burdens placed on the shoulders of the vulnerable and impoverished.

The FY 2013 Budget proposal, also known as the “Ryan Budget,”  is  making its way into the federal framework and outlines a proposed $3 billion decrease in foreign aid. It aims to decrease the government’s international affairs spending by 11 percent by eliminating  the international food assistance program known as Feed the Future. This program was put into effect to ensure and bolster food security in developing countries.

This proposed decrease, is only one of many that will decrease our presence on the frontlines of international need. Similar to the cuts that SNAP itself is facing, these international programs will become enfeebled due to lack of substantial funding; hunger will neither be abated here nor where it is most brutal. As a world power, it is imperative that we do not cut our assistance efforts to maintain strong relationships globally.

There is obviously an immense responsibility placed on government officials to deal with the impending debt crisis in this country but we, on the Loquitur, implore it to not be on the backs of those who already suffer, Food insecurity and the subsequent assistance essential to its relief are perhaps the largest, most crucial issues time and again.

We encourage all to join the Cabrini community in advocating against unnecessary hunger, in echoing their desire to increase global food assistance, on Sunday, April 29. Share in the hunger and reflect upon the daily struggles of almost one billion people worldwide.

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