Yesterday, Lisa and I ended our "food stamp challenge." We did it because we wanted to raise awareness, to learn, and to pressure our colleagues in Congress to do more to make certain the food stamp benefit is adequate.
Many of our colleagues were surprised to learn that the minimum benefit is $10 per month -- something that hasn't changed since the mid-1970's. Many were also unaware of the difficult choices so many in our country must deal with each and every day. Some have told me that they themselves might undertake their own food stamp challenge. I hope they do. But, even more, I hope they'll vote to improve the program and other nutrition initiatives.
This afternoon I am meeting with the leaders of several non-profits that work to fight hunger. These organizations are on the front line in the battle against hunger -- and I am eager to partner with them in support of legislation (HR 2129) to better fund food stamps and other nutrition programs.
Although these federal programs are vitally important in the battle against hunger, I also am aware of the need to better support our nation's food banks and local anti-hunger initiatives. I have learned a great deal about effective ways to make sure people have adequate nutrition from my own local food bank -- the Worcester County Food Bank.
Finally, Lisa and I are grateful for all the comments, advice and suggestions that so many people have given us. It has been inspiring -- and it has given me hope that we can actually get something positive accomplished.
One more thing, please make sure that your Congressperson or Senator is active on these issues. Make it a point to e-mail, write or call them. Ask them to cosponosor HR 2129. Tell them your own stories. Don't let them off the hook. Remember, we work for you -- not the other way around!
Stay in touch....
Major provisions pf HR 2129:
- Raise the minimum benefit from $10 to about $30 per month so that everybody who qualifies for the program gets a real help up
- Peg benefits to inflation to stop the erosion of the purchasing power of food stamps
- Restore eligibility to all legal residents
- Raise the asset limits for eligibility so that families on food stamps are encouraged to save for college and retirement
- Allow families to deduct the full cost of childcare when determining their eligibility