U.S. Should Be Investing in Ending Hunger, Green Candidate Maintains
BROOKLYN, Mon March 16–James Lane, the Green Party Congressional candidate in District 11 (Brooklyn-Staten Island), said today that he opposed pending efforts in Congress to cut food stamps–also known as SNAP benefits–for hungry Americans.
Lane said that Congress should instead invest in ending hunger, starting with increasing funding for Child Nutrition Programs such as school and summer meals and WIC (Women, Infants and Children).
"Congress needs to adjust its priorities so no one in our community goes to bed hungry. Instead of wasting billions subsidizing agribusiness and unhealthy foods high in sugar, salt and fat, we should provide free lunch and breakfast to all children. Instead of food stamp (SNAP) benefits being cut, they should be increased to support an adequate healthy diet," said Lane.
Republican leaders in Congress plan to re-open the Farm Bill in the next few weeks because it is costing much more money to subsidize unhealthy commodities such as corn and soy than was initially predicted. Health and anti-hunger advocates had wanted those subsidies completely ended, investing the funds instead in healthy fruits and vegetables. But instead of reducing the subsidies to commodities to reflect the higher costs, Republicans want to slash $20 billion over ten years from food stamps, the nation's main anti-hunger program. The House Budget Committee is scheduled to mark up its budget resolution on March 18.
Lane noted that Democrats had also failed to take action to end hunger. The cuts in food stamps that took place in November 2013 was part of a deal made by the Democratic majority in the first years of the Obama administration, funding a small increase in child nutrition programs by cutting $2 billion in future SNAP benefits. For a family of three, the cut was $29 a month. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has failed to follow through on his campaign pledge to require schools to participate in the "Breakfast after the Bell" program,and refused to implement free school["school" OK AS INSERTED?] lunch citywide even after the City Council appropriated the funds for it.
Lane said that he supported having the United States legally recognize a right to healthy food, something that virtually every other country has already done. In 1979 President Carter did sign the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which legally establishes the right to food, but Congress has refused to ratify it.
National data shows that about 8% of residents in the 11th Congressional District experiences food hardship. Citywide, about 17% of residents are food insecure. Nearly one in five New Yorkers-1.4 million people-rely on emergency food programs. Project Hospitality, Staten Island's largest food relief programs, served more than 2.2 million meals last year. The loss of affordable housing in Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy has also contributed to an increase in hunger.
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