June 28, 2017 – By Joyce Rothermel

Currently in Washington, D.C, it’s budget season and the Trump administration has made it loud and clear they want to cut and structurally change SNAP (formerly food stamps), while stripping foreign aid spending to focus on what they consider greater priorities – military spending and border security. Also looming is the issue of health care for the country.

Given the critical state of our country, Bread for the World members asked lawmakers to:

  • Oppose any budget cuts that would increase hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
  • Fully fund domestic safety-net and international development programs that end hunger and poverty.
  • Oppose harmful structural changes to SNAP, Medicaid, and international development assistance.

Representatives from our SW PA Bread Team (Myra Mann, Marianne Novy, Marjorie James, and I) traveled to Washington, DC June 13 and brought this message to Sen. Pat Toomey, Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Mike Doyle, Rep. Tim Murphy and Rep. Keith Rothfus. We met face to face with Sen. Casey and Rep. Doyle, both strong allies in the work for a more food secure planet. Bread for the World President David Beckman presented an award to Sen. Casey for his leadership in the passage of the Global Food Security Act. We met with aides in the offices of Sen. Toomey, Rep. Murphy and Rep. Rothfus.

We informed lawmakers that budget cuts that reduce access to basic nutrition and health programs will increase hunger. Currently, one in eight households faces food insecurity in the U.S. while 800 million people in the world are hungry. We highlighted the need for safety-net programs in the U.S. such as SNAP, Medicaid, and refundable tax credits which help reduce hunger. Internationally, we urged them to provide no less than 60 billion in the fiscal year 2018 budget to the international affairs budget. Lastly, we highly opposed structural changes to these necessary programs, such as block grant or per capita caps, because programs like SNAP are working in their current form.

The Administration’s budget takes an isolationist approach by proposing to reduce the scope the U.S. has on international aid. Bread policy analysts have pointed out if we are not there, other nations will be there, like China or Russia, which could be detrimental to our national security. Therefore, food security is a national security issue.

Lobby Day was powerful in multiple ways. It revealed how much faith leaders from all across the U.S. are willing to do in challenging times. We have the ability to serve and advocate for underserved communities. We work with those who do not share our views or religion, and find common ground, such as hunger relief, to unite us. Bread’s lobby day was a great example on how to mobilize and unify people from different backgrounds and faiths to join together on the mission to end hunger.

We encourage our readers to become a part of these important efforts. The next meeting of the SW PA Bread Team is on Wednesday, July 19 at 1 PM at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in a meeting room near the cafeteria. For more information, please contact me at rothermeljoyce@gmail.com.

Joyce Rothermel serves as Co-Convener of the SW PA Bread for the World Team.