In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recognized that current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits weren’t enough. Unemployment was soaring, inflation was climbing, and average households were barely staying afloat. That’s why they issued Emergency Allotments that increased the amount of benefits received, and suspended arcane work requirements in order for people to qualify. Knowing how our rural and urban households are still financially recovering from 2020, and that those same hardships continue to plague our communities, I urge our congressional partners to keep SNAP strong by rejecting cuts, and protect Southern Tier families from struggling to put food on the table.
Between the three counties that I represent in my district, we have some of the highest rates of poverty in the state, roughly thirty thousand people rely on SNAP to feed their families. These are hardworking households who need a stable bridge to navigate the ongoing challenges of increased living costs. By supporting our families through SNAP, we are able to set them and their loved ones up for future success. Robust benefits mean that kids will get the nutrition they need to learn and grow, that teens and adults can better maintain employment, and that families don’t have to worry about being able to put food on the table. By placing SNAP on the chopping block, Congress is telling average households to work overtime in order to eat. Furthermore, cutting this vital support shows a complete lack of acknowledgement of increased food costs.
I ran for State Senate because I’ve seen firsthand how people are able to have a chance to grow when their basic needs are met. That’s why in my first term, I fought for us to support transformative programs like Free School Meals, expanding the child tax credit, and fully funding public education for the first time in New York’s history. New York State Democrats have been working hard to lift the floor so that all families can thrive and prosper. But we need Congress to do its part by bolstering federal programs like SNAP, which not only lift the burden on the working class, but ensure that no one slips through the cracks.
While Congress may think that gutting SNAP is a money saver now, we will ultimately pay for it down the line when thousands of individuals find themselves in greater need of intervention and support. That’s why I am calling on our own representative and the other Republican members of Congress to think of their working households here at home, who deserve for us to invest in their success at every opportunity so we can make our region as a whole better off. Southern Tier families spend everyday proving their worth, there’s no need to add additional hurdles just so they can eat.
Senator Lea Webb Chairs the NYS Senate’s Committee on Women’s Issues. She represents the 52nd Senate district, which includes Cortland County, Tompkins County, and part of Broome County.