Phoenix AZ (May 17, 2013) – Fresh off the House Agriculture Committee’s vote to slash spending on SNAP (Food Stamps) by $21 billion over 10 years in their version of the Farm Bill, and on the heels of the Senate Agriculture Committee voting to cut $4.1 billion, the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB) condemns these proposed cuts. Further, AAFB asks the public to contact their Arizona Senators and Congressional members immediately and ask them to oppose cuts to SNAP, TEFAP (commodity food distributed by food banks) and other nutrition assistance programs contained in the Farm Bill. Individuals can find contact information for their elected officials by visiting www.votesmart.org and entering their zip code.
“Make no mistake, cutting SNAP will take food away from low-income Arizona families struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of the recession,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “Ensuring our neighbors have enough to eat is a shared American value and responsibility. Food banks alone cannot meet the immense need. We need a strong federal commitment to SNAP and other hunger relief programs.”
Arizona’s food banks and other local charities are already stretched to the breaking point trying to keep up with increased need as families in our state continue to feel the impact of the recession. Cuts to SNAP would be devastating to all Arizona communities and drive more individuals to food banks which are already struggling to keep up with the sustained high demand for services already occurring.
Spending on SNAP has historically gone down during economic recoveries, and is projected to do so again as the present economy recovers and more people find full-time employment with a livable wage. Cutting critical nutrition assistance in the Farm Bill will have real negative consequences on households who have fallen on hard times and are struggling to put food on their table, prolonging their economic recovery.
AAFB member food banks have distributed an average of nearly 11 million pounds of food each month, the equivalent of 9.2 million meals, ever since the economic downturn in late 2008. One in five Arizonans and one in four children under the age of 18 struggle with food insecurity and live at or below the Federal Poverty Level, which is only $23,550 a year for a family of four. Over 1.1 million Arizona individuals rely on SNAP benefits, with the average benefit amount being less than $1.35 per meal. Half of Arizona SNAP recipients are children, and more than 80% are either a child, elderly or disabled.
Established in 1984, the Association of Arizona Food Banks is a private, non-profit organization serving five-member regional food banks (Community Food Bank, Desert Mission Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank, Yuma Community Food Bank) and a network of nearly 1,600 food pantries and agencies. As one of the first state associations in the nation and an inaugural partner state association of Feeding America, AAFB was instrumental in the development of a statewide gleaning project, and our advocacy efforts have brought about beneficial state and federal legislation for our member food banks and the people they serve. For more information, to find a food bank or pantry in your area, or to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.azfoodbanks.org.