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Statement on Farm Bill Proposals 

On May 1, two Farm Bill proposals were brought forward. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (MI) released a summary of a forthcoming bill, the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, while House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA) released his own Farm Bill framework.  

The Greater Chicago Food Depository applauds the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act for including critical investments in our nation’s vital nutrition programs. At a time when food insecurity impacts one in five Chicago area households – including one in four households with children – this bill shows potential to protect more of our neighbors from hunger. Some highlights of the Senate bill summary include: 

  • Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by ensuring benefit levels and purchasing power are protected through the Thrifty Food Plan. This allows SNAP to account for factors beyond inflation that impact the cost of groceries.
     
  • Increasing access to SNAP for populations at heightened risk of hunger, including college students, military families, older adults, and people rebuilding their lives after incarceration.
     
  • Investments in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which purchases food commodities from U.S. farmers and distributes them to local hunger relief organizations like the Food Depository. TEFAP funding proposed in the Senate bill would increase the overall amount of food available while authorizing more funding for food storage and distribution expenses, which suffered a drastic cut in the most recent government funding bill.
     
  • Improvements in SNAP, including recourse for people whose benefits are stolen, improved EBT security, and steps toward allowing hot food purchases.
     
  • Investments in the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA), which provides funding for states like Illinois to invest in local food producers by way of making more food available for hunger relief.  

The Food Depository is encouraged by the Senate bill, which reflects bipartisan priorities to reduce food insecurity across the United States. 

At the same time, we are strongly opposed to the Farm Bill framework brought forward by Chairman Thompson. While details are limited, it appears this bill would restrict future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan – effectively making SNAP less effective as grocery prices continue to climb. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this would result in a $30 billion cut to SNAP over the next decade. There is also language in the framework that gives us concern for future restrictions on SNAP eligibility and usage.  

As congressional attention shifts to the Farm Bill, it is critical for anti-hunger advocates to raise their voices. Our elected officials must strengthen critical nutrition programs and anti-hunger policies that protect millions of people across the United States from food insecurity. Hunger is elevated in the Chicago area and across the nation. Households and food banks are struggling with high food prices and a smaller safety net. Everyone in the United States will benefit from a Farm Bill that invests in programs and policies that reduce food insecurity. 

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