It’s Not Too Much to Heat and Eat

Full confession: It took me a while to learn how to tie my shoes. This may have been because I really, really liked those sweet Velcro-enhanced sneakers, or because I didn’t learn how to loop it, swoop it and pull it until fifth grade.

I’ve spent enough time with my shoes, though, to know what a loophole is—and enough time trying to tie my shoes to know what isn’t.

As Congress moves forward with the 2012 Farm Bill, anti-hunger programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), have come under fire. The version of the farm bill that passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee at the end of April contained cuts of more than $4 billion to SNAP.

These cuts came in the form of what many proponents have dubbed “closing a loophole.” Politico even used the construction in a recent article:

In the case of food stamps, cash-strapped states are guilty of manipulating the rules to get aid to their poor. Token amounts of low-income energy assistance are distributed to households, for example, allowing families to qualify for a standard utility deduction that increases their food stamp benefit.

Yet “heat and eat,” as this practice is known, is nothing like a loophole. Rather, it is a mechanism that allows states to jointly use SNAP funding and home energy assistance funding (to help impoverished families afford to heat and cool their homes as needed). Its purpose, then, is to keep families from having to make the impossible decision between heating their homes and feeding themselves.

We must do more to combat hunger in America, and remember what the sage Ben Sira taught: that “a small bit of bread may be life to the poor; one who deprives them of it sheds blood.” Join us, and tell Congress to support anti-hunger programs, instead of abandoning those in need.


Image Courtesy Slow Food NYC

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Ian Hainline

About Ian Hainline

Ian Hainline is a 2011-2012 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Chapel Hill, NC, and is a member of Judea Reform Congregation.

One Response to “It’s Not Too Much to Heat and Eat”

  1. Low incomed families should be able to eat and heat their homes. They have usually payed their taxes to support other’s in need.
    Low incomed people often have jobs that pay minimum wage which keeps them at the povery level and eligible for SNAP that usually only cover 2 weeks a month of groceries. That leaves a person on SNAP to often have to frequent food banks. Even working full time 1t 8-10 a hour in California will often not leave enough money each month to pay gas and electric bills. The energy assistance programs are helpful for families working, disabled or on unemployment.

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