While Congress debates whether or not to protect the critical food and nutrition safety net programs in the Farm Bill in Washington, hundreds of miles away, an elderly woman named Catalina, sat down at a table in the front lobby of Chicago’s Southwest Regional Senior Center.
Across from her were two Greater Chicago Food Depository SNAP Outreach team members.
Food Depository SNAP Outreach Coordinator Jessica Fisher and Adam McGriffin, Food Depository Older Adults Service coordinator, were at the senior center on South Kedzie this past Tuesday, helping clients fill out the online application for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps. This is just one of the dozens of SNAP Outreach events the Food Depository holds throughout the city each week.
"Are they cutting food stamps?" Catalina asked Jessica after she sat down. Catalina, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side, came to the senior center with her daughter Kathleen to apply for a Link card for the first time. Catalina is concerned the benefits are going away.
“I am worried about her nutrition and about what she is eating” said Kathleen. “Money is very tight. My mom really needs this help.”
“Applicants have started asking me about the possible SNAP cuts,” said Jessica. “This is definitely on some of their minds.”
Hunger-relief programs, like SNAP, depend on the Farm Bill, the single largest source of federal funding for nutrition assistance programs, for financial support to provide millions of struggling Americans access to nutritious meals. With the Farm Bill up for reauthorization next year, congressional committees are now drafting and debating their own versions of the Farm Bill. Some of those versions call for drastic cuts to food and nutrition safety net programs, including limiting and potentially denying low-income people access to SNAP benefits. People like Catalina.
Last year, Food Depository SNAP Outreach staff and volunteers helped nearly 2,300 Cook County households apply for SNAP benefits. Approximately 83 percent of those applications were approved, resulting in an average monthly benefit of $175 for those families.
To ensure low-income individuals and families continue to receive much-needed food assistance, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is asking you to call your congressional leaders and tell them to protect anti-hunger programs, like SNAP, in the budget and the Farm Bill.
To learn more, please visit chicagosfoodbank.org/advocate or contact the Advocacy and Public Policy team at 773-247-3663.