Itís going to be a hard, cold winter for lots of our neighbors. Not just because of the weather.
A series of cutbacks from the government is going to hit hard on people who are already struggling. Millions of Americans are living very close to hunger, which is helped by a food stamp program that gives them a little more than $4 a day.
But the Congress is proposing cutting food stamps by $40 billion over the next 10 years. $5 billion in cuts have already come into effect before the end of 2013.
More than 80 percent of the 45-48 million Americans who received food stamps (SNAP benefits) live below the poverty level. Even with that help, they often have trouble providing for their families.
Also Low Income Heating Assistance benefits (LIHEAP) are under scrutiny and may face cuts in the near future.
All this is tied to the Farm Bill that is being revamped in Congress. In order to provide more in farm subsidies, programs that provide necessary assistance will be cut to the bare bones. While we support those parts of the Farm Bill that assist our local farmers in times of drought, CREP, insurance, etc., we have concerns that SNAP benefits are being used as a bargaining chip.
What does this mean for our region? It means that our food banks and assistance programs will be overwhelmed with people in need. It means that many of the students in our schools will be struggling to keep up with their studies because of the lack of food at home. It means that our religious institutions will be asked to fill an ever-widening gap.
What can you do? Get involved and become aware of the political issues that are having such a devastating effect on our neighbors. And give generously of money, food and volunteer time to such organizations as the Food Bank and La Puente. If youíre enjoying a good dinner, and sitting in a warm living room, remember those who are enduring this winter without those comforts.
Multi-Faith Women in Ministry Network