ACTION ALERT: Nutrition Assistance Programs in Jeopardy — by Andy Grant

Please contact your federal and state representatives in support for SNAP and HIP

An essential part of the vision for the Amherst Food Co-op is that the future store will be a ‘SNAP-friendly’ place. People who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as Food Stamps) will know as soon as they walk through the doors that they are welcome and that we anticipated their need for affordable, healthy food options on any budget.

At the national level, SNAP is in jeopardy. The current draft of the Farm Bill includes big cuts that will undermine nutritional assistance across the country. The Food Bank of Western Mass, a great source for SNAP advocacy, recommends these action steps:

  • Call your U.S. representative and ask them to vote against the Farm Bill when it comes to the floor.
    • Dial 888-398-8702
    • Follow the prompts to be connected to your representative.
    • Tell them that you are a constituent and urge them to vote ‘NO’ on the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) and oppose cuts to SNAP food assistance.
  • If you live in Congressman Jim McGovern’s district, call or email to thank him for speaking out against this harsh bill.
  • Read more on this topic from the Food Bank of Western Mass: Let’s Stop Farm Bill Cuts
  • On Facebook? Like the Food Bank’s page: facebook.com/FoodBankofWesternMA

At the state level, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) is now underfunded. Last year HIP brought a flood of SNAP participants to farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSA farm shares by incentivizing purchases of local produce. It dispelled the myth that poor people are not interested in the local food movement; it also increased sales for area farmers.

Action is needed to support HIP by asking for adequate funding in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. State Senator Anne Gobi will be introducing an amendment to increase the funding from $3 million to $6.2 million which better reflects the need across the Commonwealth, according to the MA Food System Collaborative.

  • Call or email your state senator and ask them to co-sponsor Amendment #489 being introduced by Senator Gobi to include $6.2 million for HIP in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. If they request the budget line number, it is 4400-1001.
  • Visit the MA Food System Collaborative to track these developments and learn more about what you can do to bolster the local food system.
  • Like their Facebook page too! facebook.com/MAFoodPlan

Historically, food cooperatives have risen up to challenge inequities in the food system. Today is no different. Let your voice be heard. Speak up so that every person has access to basic nutrition. How SNAP-friendly are you?

In cooperation,

~Andy

Andy Grant
Andy Grant, Outreach Coordinator for the (up and coming) Amherst Food Co-op
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