With Congress scheduled to vote this week on legislation making deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Mainers who depend on food assistance to feed their families and advocates for the program urged lawmakers today to end corporate tax loopholes as an alternative to the cuts.
The legislation, sponsored by Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, would cut food aid by $40 billion over 10 years, affecting up to 6 million hungry families, children, seniors and veterans. These cuts would come on top of across-the-board cuts to SNAP benefits that are already scheduled to go into effect this fall. In Maine, 1 in 5 residents rely on the anti-hunger program, with 64% of those recipients in families with children.
“There is hunger in this community and the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center sees it every day,” said Executive Director Kirsten Walter. “For thousands of low-income Mainers, SNAP is the only source of support they receive to supplement their limited budgets and protect them from hunger. SNAP dollars also support our local economy, as families use their benefits to purchase food at local grocers and farmer’s markets. Every $1 in spending on SNAP generates $1.75 in local economic activity.”
“We don’t have to look beyond our own community to see the ways that food insecurity affects families. More and more people are counting on help from the SNAP to make ends meet,” said Heidi Brooks of Lewiston who used to receive assistance from the program. “Several years ago I received help from SNAP and I am very grateful for the assistance the program provided. Food is a basic human necessity and a right. This program helps families who are working and still having trouble making ends meet, helps people who are looking for work and having trouble finding it –the program works for a lot of people, and it’s an important way to help people find food security in times of need.”
Participants called on lawmakers to close corporate tax loopholes and make large companies such as Apple, General Electric and Verizon finally pay their fair share of federal taxes as a way to prevent these deep cuts.
“It’s inexcusable for Congress to propose cuts to SNAP while allowing big corporations to avoid their tax responsibility with corporate loopholes and accounting tricks,” said MPA lead organizer Gen Lysen. “We need leaders in Washington to make sure companies pay their fair share and programs like SNAP are protected from further cuts. We hope that Representatives Michaud and Pingree not only do the right thing and vote against Representative Cantor’s extreme attack on food security, but also lead the way in the fight to close corporate tax loopholes and make sure that everyone, including multinational companies, pays their fair share.”