Nutrition rights activists rallied outside the Detroit office of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Tuesday to highlight the impact that cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would have on many vulnerable families. Last week, the house passed their version of the Farm Bill that would deny food stamps to two millions Americans and toughen work requirements for remaining recipients. Sen. Stabenow worked across the aisle with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to draft a Senate bill that acknowledges the need for SNAP by the elderly, disabled and those trying to raise families on low wage incomes. Mothering Justice, MOSES, and Michigan United came together to form the Safety Net Coalition. They want to make sure the draconian cuts made in the house version don’t survive the reconciliation process.
Shortly before the rally, Sen. Stabenow spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about how SNAP offered farmers protection from market fluctuations. “Just as the Farm bill provides a safety net for farmers, it also provides a safety net for families,” said Sen. Stabenow. “We know nutrition assistance provides a critical lifeline for families struggling to make ends meet.”
About 29 percent of Michigan residents eventually find themselves in need of SNAP. One of them is Barbara Carr, a homecare worker from Flint. “My reasons were working at low pay jobs and periods of underemployed,” said Carr. “ We all know that food assistance is suppose to help feed the poor. But in reality, for a lot of individuals that's all they have.”
Deanne Austin benefited from SNAP while an undergraduate at Michigan State University. Her disabled mother was not able to support her through college and work study limited the number of hours she could work herself. “I depended on food assistance because I could barely afford all my expenses as a college student,” said Austin. “SNAP allowed me to focus on my education without worrying about how I was going to afford my next meal.”