Bread for the World, a group that advocates for food programs for the poor is on a mission to save SNAP (food stamps) and WIC (Women’s, Infants and Children) from the chopping block this week in Congress.

This week the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Committee will vote on spending cuts to the Farm Bill. Included in the farm bill are nutrition programs that supplement food for the poorest of the poor. According to Bread for the World, these cuts to food programs would be devastating for low income families.

“It’s been long a long time practice to protect programs like SNAP--Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and WIC that provide basic needs to our most vulnerable citizens. But this time I and many others have a real fear that the proposal will be to severely cut these programs,” said Nancy Olson, Sioux Falls resident and member of Bread for The World.

Bread for the World is asking South Dakotans to contact Senator John Thune and Representative Kristi Noem at 1-800-826-3688 asking them to vote against these cuts that Bread for the World says would cut benefits to low income families in South Dakota. Both Noem and Thune serve on the Agriculture Committees.

“It would hurt me and probably hurt a lot of people. A lot of people depend on their food stamps said, Isabel Valdez, a Sioux Falls mother.
Maria Garcia agrees with Valdez. “They just boosted the prices on food. If they cut food stamps, they’re making a battle where it shouldn’t be,” said Garcia.

According to Olson, SNAP is the largest child nutrition program in the United States. In South Dakota alone, more than 40,000 children get their food through SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Every five years, Congress passes a bundle of legislation, commonly called the "Farm Bill" that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, and expired in 2012. A partial extension was passed on January 1 to extend several expired Farm Bill programs.

Mothers with hungry children aren’t the only people who would be affected by these cuts. Kayla Beitelspacher has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound. She uses SNAP to put food on the table but also uses local feeding programs because SNAP isn’t enough to cover food costs. “It would hurt me on the nights I can’t get to The Banquet to eat. On Sundays The Banquet is closed and I go to church on Wednesday nights, said Beitelspacher. “ With the food stamps I receive, without The Banquet and the Salvation Army I wouldn’t make it.”

Bread for the World works locally with churches and feeding ministries like The Banquet,Feeding South Dakota, Food to You, mobile food pantry, Salvation Army, Lunch is Served and Voices for Children just to name a few.

“South Dakota has an important voice in that Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem both serve on the committee that is providing this vital input. Massive cuts to both of these programs are a strong possibility as these committees make their recommendation in the new farm bill,” said Olson.