President’s Budget would Worsen Hunger, Poverty, and Hardship in Montana
“A federal budget reflects our values and vision for America. President Trump’s FY19 budget, released on Monday, abandons our long-held values of caring for our neighbors, helping people during hard times, and the belief that no one in this country should go hungry. Instead, the budget presents a vision in which struggling families face more and more obstacles just to get by, weakening the very programs that provide stability and opportunity in our communities.
The proposals included in the President’s budget would drastically worsen hunger and poverty in Montana. In particular, the President’s budget would take food away from millions of Americans by cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), a program that helps 120,000 Montanans keep food on the table. The President proposes cutting the program by $213 billion (nearly 30 percent) over ten years by undermining the program’s structure, reducing benefits for nearly every household on SNAP, and further restricting eligibility. Feeding America, our national food bank partner, estimates that these cuts would result in a loss of over 40 billion meals nationwide. The President’s budget also completely eliminates a critical nutrition program for low-income seniors, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP, commonly known as Senior Commodities). Eliminating CSFP would mean the loss of basic food assistance for nearly 7,000 low-income seniors in Montana.
In addition to cuts to food assistance, the budget proposes deep cuts to Medicaid, housing, and other programs that provide assistance to tens of thousands of Montana households – most of whom are working for low wages, are families with children, or are elderly or disabled. Cutting these essential services will inevitably result in higher rates of poverty, worsened health outcomes, and more instability for vulnerable families.
While the Montana Food Bank Network and local food pantries across the state work tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance, our resources are already stretched. SNAP has long been one of the most powerful and effective poverty-reduction programs in the country, effectively reducing hunger while supporting public health and local economies. The charitable food system cannot begin to make up the difference if public nutrition programs like SNAP and Senior Commodities are cut, or if more people are pushed into poverty through the loss of other essential services.
Instead of providing support and opportunity, these cuts will take away food, health care, and housing, making it even harder for families in our state to make ends meet. Members of Congress, including Senators Daines and Tester and Representative Gianforte have the opportunity to take a stand for Montanans by protecting SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the federal budget or any other legislation this year.”
Gayle Carlson, CEO, Montana Food Bank Network