At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
The campaigning, polling, and political advertising set aside after the election of 2012, business in Washington is back underway. What that means is revived discussions about how to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Jan 1st, 2013, and the ramifications it will have for those in need.
The stalled 2012 U.S. Farm Bill has entered discussions again, and with it proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). In Massachusetts 51.8% of SNAP recipients are either seniors, or children. Nationally the number of children and elderly using SNAP grows to 54%.
According to the USDA’s study like much of the rest of the country “The overall economic conditions of the average SNAP household declined from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011, likely a result of the still struggling job market and national economy.”
One question remains: who will pick up the slack? If proposed versions of the Farm Bill are passed as part of fiscal cliff negotiations, funding for SNAP will be cut at least by $4.45 billion and at most by $16 billion. This could drive up the numbers of people seeking assistance from food pantries and meal sites, through 300 of which in Western Mass., The Food Bank serves more than 135,000 neighbors facing hunger.
Your voice can help. Communicating with your elected officials can localize the issue of food insecurity and brings the human element back into a discussion mired in facts and figures.
Scott Brown: www.scottbrown.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailscottbrown (202) 224-4543
John Kerry: www.kerry.senate.gov/contact/ (202) 224-2742
John Olver – 202-225-5335
Richard Neal – 202-225-5601
James McGovern – 202-225-6101
Barney Frank – 202-225-5931
Niki Tsongas – 202-225-3411
John Tierney – 202-225-8020
Ed Markey – 202-225-2836
Michael Capuano – 202-225-5111
Stephen Lynch – 202-225-8273
William Keating – 202-225-3111
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