U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt examines the contents of a box of food packaged at the St. Louis Area Foodbank for low-income senior citizens / Photo by Ryan Farmer
As the holidays approach, many of us find ourselves searching for ways we can give back to our community.
Most of us are familiar with the tried and true acts of charity:
• Volunteering time, whether by sorting and repacking food for the hungry at the Foodbank, or tutoring an underprivileged teen.
• Donating money to a favorite charity, whether that means dropping a few dollars into the Salvation Army bell ringer’s red bucket, or making an online donation.
But one way we can all help ensure the future safety and health of our neighbors in need is by lending our voices to support the protection of government programs that offer safety nets for the poor.
As Congress works to write a new Farm Bill and bring our fiscal house in order, we, as generous Americans, must remind our legislators that they must not balance the budget by cutting programs that put food on the table for those less fortunate.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is a proud member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic charity committed to feeding the hungry. Feeding America offers many suggestions for ways to voice your support for struggling Americans.
• Write or email your representatives and senators and let them know that cuts to SNAP (food stamps) will be devastating on the 50 million Americans living in food insecurity.
• Visit with your local legislators in person, and voice your support for protecting invaluable safety nets like SNAP and The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
• Call Congress! Just dial Feeding America’s toll-free number, enter your zip code, and you’ll be connected to your Member of Congress’s office. Take your advocacy to the next!
• Share your story here. If you’ve struggled with hunger, or if you know someone who has, offer legislators a picture of how hunger looks in your community.
• Initiate a letter-writing campaign with your neighbors, your church group or friends. Encourage them to convey this message:
I support my local food bank, and I know they are struggling to meet the needs of our community. Food donations are drying up, gas and food prices remain high, and nearly 50 million Americans are living in food insecurity. Cuts to SNAP will be devastating. While food banks, churches, and pantries are doing great work in our community, charity alone cannot meet the need for food assistance.
You have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of hungry Americans. As Congress considers how to write a new Farm Bill and reduce our national debt, Congress must protect and strengthen hunger-relief programs like the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). With unemployment still high and many Americans struggling to make ends meet, Congress cannot cut the programs that are helping many of our neighbors put food on the table. Given the associated healthcare, educational, and economic costs of hunger and poor nutrition, cuts to these programs are not only immoral, they are short-sighted and costly in the long run.
As your constituent, I ask that you remember the families who are struggling in our state and remain committed to protecting programs that are a lifeline for hungry Americans. Please pass a strong Farm Bill that that protects and invests in TEFAP and SNAP.
For more information on ways you can be a hunger advocate and take action for your community this holiday season, visit Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center.
Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank