Indiana Food Banks Concerned About Draft Farm Bill’s Benefit Cuts –

By Joe Ulery
Indiana News Service

LAFAYETTE — Groups fighting hunger in Indiana said they are deeply concerned about proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other nutritional benefits, saying the cuts could impede their progress.

Republicans in Congress have advanced a long-anticipated Farm Bill through the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, despite Democratic opposition to the cuts it contains.

Kier Crites Muller, president and CEO of Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette, said food insecurity is on the rise in Indiana and is already at its highest rate since 2014.

“The Farm Bill plays a pivotal role in addressing food insecurity,” Crites Muller pointed out. “Yet policy changes proposed by the bill make harmful cuts to crucial federal nutrition programs that help millions of people access the food they need to thrive.”

The $1.5 trillion legislation sets policy and funding for key food, agriculture and conservation programs for the next five years. Its limited Democratic support may not be sufficient for final House passage. The proposal also lacks support from Senate Democrats and the White House. Leaders warn the draft bill could disrupt the traditional bipartisan coalition supporting farm bills, raising concerns about its overall viability.

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data, one in seven Hoosiers experiences food insecurity. Crites Muller noted the House proposal does include several limited improvements to nutrition programs but they are outweighed by changes weakening the government’s ability to provide resources to people facing hunger.

“Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports a bill that will make strategic investments to help end hunger,” Crites Muller stressed. “Without making harmful cuts and policy changes to SNAP, SNAP’s Thrifty Food Plan future benefits, or any of the other federal nutrition plans, to ensure that everyone in Indiana and across the nation has access to nutritious food.”

SNAP benefits are based on the cost of budget-conscious groceries for a family of four, or what’s known as the Thrifty Food Plan. It is not immediately clear when the Farm Bill will be brought before for full House for debate.

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