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Protect and strengthen SNAP to nourish our children

Protect and strengthen SNAP to nourish our children

Events of recent years have emphasized the health imperative of ensuring the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens, especially our children. Every child deserves a chance to grow, learn and thrive, unburdened by the shackles of hunger. This is a call to action — a plea to Congress to safeguard the future by protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP has long been a lifeline for millions of American families struggling to make ends meet. It helps countless parents supplement their household budgets. This, in turn, helps disrupt the cycle of poverty. By providing families with the supplemental means to put nutritious food on the table, SNAP contributes directly to the health and development of our nation's youth.

As concerned organizations dedicated to the welfare of children and families, Save the Children and Bread for the World understand the power of a well-nourished child. Nutrition is not merely a biological need; it is the cornerstone upon which a child's physical and mental development is built. As most Americans have also come to understand, it is the bedrock of their future potential.

According to a recent bipartisan survey led by Save the Children Acton Network, members of Congress who vote to cut SNAP benefits risk provoking a negative backlash from the voting public.Two in three (67 percent) voters say they would feel less favorable toward their member of Congress if they voted to cut SNAP benefits. This sentiment crosses partisan lines, with 81 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Republicans saying they would feel less favorable toward Congress.

In the United States, millions of children still face the cruel pangs of hunger every day. According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 9 million children in the U.S. are food insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for every person in their family to be healthy. The prevalence of food insecurity, coupled with soaring food prices, are continuously straining families who are seeing reductions in or the elimination of other forms of assistance post-pandemic.

The undeniable truth is that protecting and strengthening SNAP is investing in our shared future. For every dollar invested in SNAP, the return is manifold. Children who have access to adequate nutrition during their early years are more likely to perform well in school, achieve higher levels of education, and ultimately break the chains of intergenerational poverty. A well-nourished child is more resilient, both physically and emotionally, making them better equipped to contribute positively to society.

It is not just a matter of fiscal responsibility; it is a matter of moral duty. Our nation's greatness is measured by how we treat our most vulnerable members. We cannot allow children to languish in hunger while we possess the means to alleviate their suffering. Cutting SNAP benefits or putting even more restrictions on the program would be an injustice, robbing countless children of their chance at a brighter future.

We acknowledge the challenges of balancing budgets and making tough decisions. However, cutting SNAP is a short-sighted approach that will ultimately cost more in money in the long run. Children who do not receive adequate nutrition are more likely to experience health problems, struggle academically, and require costly interventions later in life. By protecting and strengthening SNAP, we invest in prevention, setting our children on a path to success and reducing the burden on our health care and social welfare systems.

Save the Children and Bread for the World urge our elected officials to prioritize our children's well-being by protecting and strengthening SNAP and safeguarding their right to a healthy and prosperous life. It is within our power to break the cycle of poverty and nourish the potential that resides within every child.

Christy Gleason is vice president of Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns at Save the Children. Eugene Cho is the President & CEO of Bread for the World.

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