The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma are gravely concerned about the proposal by House leadership to slash hunger relief spending by more than $40 billion. The Oklahoma Food Banks, and their partner agencies, are already stretched to the breaking point trying to keep pace with increased demands as families in Oklahoma continue to experience significant hardship. Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, would be devastating to Oklahomans.

“Many Oklahomans have joined us in the fight against hunger by donating food, funds, and their time to the Oklahoma Food Banks,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. “However, charity alone cannot meet the need – committed public and private partnerships are the only way to truly solve the unconscionable problem of hunger across our nation. This should include strong federal support for SNAP and other important safety net programs.”

Oklahoma is one of the hungriest states in the nation, where more than 650,000 people struggle with hunger every day. Together, the Oklahoma Food Banks distributed 65.1 million pounds of food and product to hungry Oklahomans in fiscal year 2013.

“While we can all agree that quality jobs, access to adequate healthcare, and a solid educational foundation are the best long-term antidotes to hunger, until each of these important foundations are made more available, families still need to put food on the table,” stated Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. “Cutting SNAP at a time when the need for food assistance has never been greater is both reckless and short-sighted.”

Food bank clients include households who have too much in income or assets to qualify for SNAP but who still struggle to feed their families, as well as many SNAP participants whose benefits are inadequate to get them through the month. SNAP benefits average less than $1.50 per person per meal, and over 90 percent of benefits are spent by day 21 of the month, leaving many families to turn to local charities to make ends meet. SNAP is targeted at our most vulnerable: 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled person, and 85 percent have gross income at or below 100 percent of the poverty line.

“On behalf of the Oklahoma Food Banks, and those we serve, we urge every Oklahoma Representative to oppose cuts to hunger relief programs in the House’s nutrition recommendations within the U.S. Farm Bill,” encouraged Bradshaw.