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Proposed House Farm Bill would be devastating for Alaska's economy

Food Bank of Alaska opposes proposed cuts

Anti-hunger advocates in Alaska stand strong against the harmful cuts and changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) proposed in the draft 2018 Farm Bill put forth by the House Agriculture Committee. Following this release, Jim Baldwin, CEO at Food Bank of Alaska, released the following statement:

“This proposed Farm Bill would increase hunger and hardship by undercutting the best anti-poverty program we have: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps roughly 100,000 Alaskans afford groceries. It will take away or cut food assistance for people struggling in our communities, including parents raising kids, people with disabilities, older workers, low-wage workers, and people temporarily in between jobs.

“Instead of supporting SNAP - a program that keeps Alaskans out of poverty, supports our economy, and improves public health - this proposal shifts funding to a new, unworkable, and woefully-underfunded system that will do little to help people find jobs. We know that most SNAP participants who can work do work, but often in unstable jobs, which leads to gaps in employment. For most, SNAP is a temporary benefit which covers their basic needs until they can get back on their feet. Rather than helping people achieve economic independence, these aggressive new work requirements would punish many of those unable to quickly connect with work by taking away their food assistance, making it more difficult to find future success and re-enter the job market.

“The proposals in this Farm Bill ignore the lack of access to consistent, gainful employment in Alaska when our economy is struggling and work is often seasonal. This is a critical consideration in Alaska, which has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 7.3%, with rates in some areas are as high as 20%.

“No matter who they are—a senior living on a fixed income, a working mom earning $10 an hour, or a homeless vet—thousands of Alaskans use SNAP to help them afford groceries. SNAP stimulates local economies by bringing $1.70 for every federal SNAP dollar spent into our local retailers and businesses, all while being the most effective anti-hunger program in the country. Every month, about $16,792,003 federal dollars are brought into Alaska, spent at local grocery stores that employ Alaskan workers, and fill Alaskan plates that would otherwise be empty.

“Instead of talking about policy changes focused on punishing people struggling to find jobs and making people hungrier, we will be working with our federal delegation to talk about building upon SNAP’s strengths. SNAP is a sound investment with respect to health, long-term education, and employment outcomes. Strengthening, not cutting, SNAP is the right pathway forward. We need a bipartisan Farm Bill that supports our communities and makes meaningful investments in job training and education programs that would provide low-wage workers with the opportunity to move up the economic ladder.

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