Published Friday, September 13, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:04 pm
Midlands Voices: Targeting SNAP in budget cuts hurts millions

The writer, of Walthill, Neb., is a Thurston County farmer and a longtime board member of the Center for Rural Affairs.

Farmers know the value of a hard day’s work. We provide for our families and look after our neighbors. Most of us are churchgoers. We serve those less fortunate, especially if they’re children, senior citizens or the heroes who served in our military. And we know what it takes to put food on America’s tables.

The values of rural Nebraska don’t belong to any political party. They’re the values that built the foundation of our nation. But in Congress, those values are under attack by an alarming proposal to wipe out basic food assistance for millions of American families.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly 18 million households across America — some 49 million people — lacked access to adequate food at some point last year, including 99,000 households in Nebraska.

Here in Nebraska, 180,000 people (about one of every 10 Nebraskans) relied on America’s most effective anti-hunger tool, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, to put food on their tables. Most of these folks are either children or belong to families responsible for feeding children.

In other words, even in a breadbasket state like ours, tens of thousands of children struggle to get enough food to eat every day. And that’s where SNAP comes in. SNAP provides basic, healthy food to families at a low cost of about $1.36 per meal. It is an important barrier between hunger and opportunity that has sadly become a political football in Congress.

Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, Adrian Smith and Lee Terry, and their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, are debating a proposal to rip tens of billions of dollars out of SNAP. House members this summer failed to pass their farm bill largely because it included huge cuts to food assistance. And now House leaders are doubling down, proposing to make even deeper cuts.

SNAP isn’t some huge corporation that finds loopholes to avoid paying its fair share of taxes. It isn’t some federal earmark to build a “bridge to nowhere.” SNAP feeds hungry families, including children, seniors and veterans. It’s a proven program that helps lift people out of poverty in Nebraska and across the country.

SNAP also generates econom- ic activity. According to Moody’s Analytics, for every $1 invested in SNAP last year, Nebraska saw $1.70 in economic activity — meaning this hunger assistance actually pumped about $259 million into our economy.

So why bring this effective anti-hunger initiative to its knees? That’s a great question. And the supporters of this irresponsible proposal don’t seem to have any good answers.

We can all agree that we need to do more to reduce our nation’s deficit. No hardworking taxpayer should tolerate waste, fraud and abuse. But punishing hungry Nebraskans is not the way to do it.

A few of this proposal’s supporters have already pointed to instances where people have made headlines by taking advantage of the system. But their plan goes much further than buckling down on folks who cheat the system. Their plan would cause hunger in Nebraska.

Nebraskans should remind our congressmen that there are much more responsible ways to reduce our deficit. Turning to our most vulnerable citizens to do it is not a Nebraska value.

New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Man's body found near North 36th, Seward Streets
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
Shane Osborn grabs slew of Senate endorsements
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
TD Ameritrade says profit up 35 percent in second quarter
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »