Protect the Vulnerable During the Holidays: Women at Risk
As we enter the holiday season, Congress continues to work in conference committees to find a compromise in funding levels for numerous government programs in the Farm Bill and the FY2014 budget . This post is the first in a series highlighting the effects of sequestration cuts and potential funding cuts that could come out of conference.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefit millions of American women and their children. Funding cuts to these programs would leave these mothers and those they support especially vulnerable during these harsh economic times.
SNAP is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program, supporting nearly 48 million Americans and bringing 4.7 million Americans above the poverty line in 2011. It acts as a buffer between millions of women and hunger. However, the Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives would slash $39 billion from this vital program. Women make up over 60% of SNAP recipients, but the cuts proposed in the House bill are structured in a way that would have an even more detrimental effect on women with young children.. One of the provisions in the House’s Farm Bill entirely eliminates SNAP benefits for adults who do not work, volunteer or participate in a job training program for at least 20 hours each week, even if those adults have young children.
As part of the sequester cuts that went into effect March 1, 2013, WIC, another national anti-hunger program that supports pregnant women, new mothers, and young children, is already seeing reductions in program funds. In 2013 alone, WIC funding has already been cut by nearly half a billion dollars and healthcare clinics specifically for WIC beneficiaries have been shuttered or had hours cut and staff reduced, making it harder for women to access their WIC benefits.
Funding cuts to these two programs are potentially devastating and to add even more insult to injury, women are further affected by sequester cuts to housing assistance programs, programs for children such as Head Start and Medicaid. Please urge your Members of Congress to protect women by ending the sequester and preserving SNAP funding.