Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) advocates for policy solutions to strengthen public nutrition programs and address underlying causes of hunger. We work to engage food pantries, people experiencing food insecurity, and many other partners to make sure that Montana’s members of Congress hear from the anti-hunger community.
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Our Farm Bill Priorities
Farm Bill is the federal legislation that authorizes numerous programs that relate to food and agriculture. Farm Bill includes a Nutrition title, which covers many important federal nutrition programs, including SNAP and TEFAP. Congress is due to approve a new Farm Bill in 2023.
The food bank system alone is not enough to eliminate hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a key part of helping families, seniors, kids, and community members keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
SNAP helps nearly 90,000 Montana residents each month stretch their budgets and access the food they need. SNAP is also a win for local economies, injecting $160 million into our state last year because people spend these funds at local farmers markets and grocery stores.
- Increase SNAP’s purchasing power by improving benefit adequacy,
- Improve SNAP access for college students
- Strengthen efforts to support work by removing the time limit on SNAP benefits,
- Protect tribal sovereignty in SNAP and other federal nutrition programs,
- End the ban on SNAP for individuals with prior drug felony convictions, and
- Protect and enhance food choice in SNAP.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides US-grown commodity foods through local organizations that serve low-income households. It is the cornerstone of food supply for Montana’s network of food pantries and congregate meal sites, ensuring that these agencies have a consistent source of nutritious, high-quality foods. It is essential to have a reliable and continuous stream of TEFAP foods as well as storage and distribution capacity.
- Reauthorize and increase to $500 million/year, adjusted for inflation, for TEFAP food purchases,
- Reauthorize and increase to $200 million/year for TEFAP storage and distribution,
- Reauthorize $15 million/year in discretionary funding for TEFAP infrastructure grants,
- Increase funding for the TEFAP Farm to Food Bank Program.
Montana State Legislature
Montana’s 2023 legislative session ended in May. It was damaging for many communities in our state, and we are grateful for the many advocates who spoke out to tell lawmakers that Montanans’ dignity, health, and economic security must be reflected in our Legislature and laws.
An unfortunate takeaway from this session is the fact that legislators passed numerous tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthiest Montanans, while doing little to support those living on low incomes and threatening the future ability of our state to fund essential public services.
MFBN organized advocacy efforts on a bill (House Bill 276) that would have created a Montana Farm to Food Bank grant program. It would have allowed food pantries to buy Montana-grown food at a fair rate from local farmers. Despite strong bipartisan support, the bill ultimately did not pass.
Some outcomes were positive for our communities. The state budget included an important increase to Medicaid provider rates. This increase is vital to ensure greater access to healthcare for senior Montanans and those with disabilities. Additionally, our advocacy efforts helped to defeat a bill (House Bill 340) attempting to restrict SNAP eligibility.
During the legislative interim, MFBN continues to engage with legislators and support improved food and economic security.