1. Letter
  2. Economic Justice

FCNL Joins Circle of Protection Letter Urging Congress to Protect SNAP

September 13, 2018


The Circle of Protection sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass a Farm Bill that doesn't reduce SNAP funding or the number of people who receive SNAP food assistance.

As the September 30 deadline for passing a Farm Bill nears, the Circle of Protection urged Congress to support a final Farm Bill with a nutrition title that protects and strengthens SNAP, modeled after the Senate version.

Congress is currently reconciling two radically different Farm Bills: the House version, which would cut SNAP funding for at least 2 million people, and the Senate version, which protects SNAP from harmful cuts and expands pilot programs for underserved populations.

The Circle of Protection is a diverse collection of Christian faith leaders that seek to protect spending and programs dedicated to helping those who are hungry and poor. FCNL is a member of the Circle of Protection and sits on the steering committee

You can find the full text of the letter below, along with a PDF version of the letter.


September 12, 2018

Dear Members of Congress,

As members of the Circle of Protection Steering Committee, we come together as leaders from a wide array of Christian bodies and organizations. Since 2011, we have worked together to maintain a Circle of Protection around people struggling with hunger, poverty, and injustice.

As Christians, we believe that God is especially concerned with the plight of those living in poverty–and that a key moral measure of our federal policies is how they treat those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). While those living at the economic margins of society do not have powerful lobbies in Washington, they do have a compelling claim on our consciences.

Right now, the House and Senate are negotiating a final Farm Bill, which will have serious consequences for the country, especially individuals struggling with hunger and food insecurity. We urge you to pass a final Farm Bill that does not reduce SNAP funding or the number of people who receive SNAP food assistance.

We oppose the House Agriculture Committee’s version because it would eliminate SNAP food assistance for about 2.6 million people. It would reduce food assistance by $20 billion, in large part to finance an expanded SNAP bureaucracy. Beneficiaries would need to report their status (whether they are working, caring for small children, disabled, or elderly) monthly rather than twice a year–a six-fold increase in paperwork, frustration, and possibilities for error. The bill would also impose additional job requirements. The very limited funding it provides for job training would not allow for effective training.

We also oppose a provision in the House bill that would impose on certain ex-offenders a lifetime ban on SNAP food assistance. This would punish people who have already paid their debt to society, negatively impact their families, and make even more difficult the task of rebuilding their lives as productive and law-abiding citizens.

Our churches and service organizations work closely with people in need of SNAP. We know first-hand that 40% of SNAP recipients already work at low wages or live in a household where somebody works. Another 50% are disabled or elderly.

In contrast, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that does not include damaging cuts to SNAP. We urge you to support a final Farm Bill with a nutrition title that protects and strengthens SNAP, modeled after the Senate version.

Scripture tells us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). For this reason, the leadership of the Circle of Protection is committed to working to ensure that federal policy, such as the Farm Bill, lifts up those in need, both in the United States and abroad. Please prioritize vulnerable individuals and struggling families by protecting and strengthening SNAP in the Farm Bill.

Sincerely,

Members of the Circle of Protection Steering Committee