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In The Bank

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012

The Food Bank of Western MA applauds President Obama’s FY2013 budget for preserving funding for critical nutritional safety net programs

On Monday, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget, and with it demonstrated a commitment to protecting and strengthening the nation’s nutrition safety net for the millions of Americans who continue to struggle with hunger, low wages, and lost jobs. According to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, his budget proposals provide important support for Western Mass. residents who are at risk of hunger.

The budget addresses nutrition issues across a multitude of different programs from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), to WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).  The proposed budget includes, among other things, a restoration of the cuts to SNAP benefits that were made in the 2010 child nutrition bill and to scheduled to occur in FY 2013, as well as a suspension of time limits on SNAP benefits for certain unemployed, working age, low income adults without dependents. At the end of FY11, more than 450,000 Mass. residents were enrolled in SNAP, 154,930 of whom live in Western Mass.

“As our community and the nation at large recover from the Great Recession, there are still millions of people who are struggling with hunger.  In Western Massachusetts alone, almost one in four households with children say they are unable to afford enough food to satisfy their needs,” said Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.  “The proposals put forth in the President’s budget are a good step in protecting and maintaining our country’s vital safety net at a time when many need it most.”

The budget, in addition to the proposals regarding SNAP, also includes:

  • Funding to support an estimated Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caseload of over 9.1 million individuals.  Massachusetts enrollment in the program during 2011 included 119,104 individuals.
  • Funding to cover an increase in the WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers for children from the current $8 to the IOM-recommended amount of $10
  • Support for continued implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
  • Permanent expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that were passed in the 2009 Recovery Act
  • $3 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), an increase of $450 million over last year to reflect the rising costs of heating oil.  Last year, Massachusetts received $77.6 million in federal funding for the program.
  • $2 million in funding for the Emerson/Leland Hunger Fellowships

With less than 9 months left until the 2012 elections, this budget helps set the framework for a serious dialogue about hunger in America and the role that federal benefit programs play in addressing it.

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