Ann McLane Kuster

Opposition to Cutting SNAP - May 17, 2013

Ann McLane Kuster
May 17, 2013— Washington, DC
Address to Agriculture Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
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Thank you very much. I want to start by saying what an honor it is to be a part of this committee as the first person in 70 years from New Hampshire to be on the Agriculture Committee. I want to address the poverty that we have in our rural communities and in our communities that ought to be feeding our people. I share the comments about our support for food banks. I share the comments about my colleagues talking about individual responsibility. Where I come from, it is everyone’s responsibility, but the challenge is that the shelves of our food banks have been bare and the challenge is that individuals simply cannot meet the needs. I also want to address my colleague, Mr. Fincher, who was quoting the Bible about work and need, because in my community I just received an email that our unemployment rate is now down to 5.5%. Now that would be enviable for almost any district in this country, but at the same time, we have 118,000 people receiving SNAP benefits. Of those people, 43% are from working families. The paycheck that they are bringing home is not sufficient to feed their family. SNAP is supplemental nutrition. It does not cover the needs: $1.32 per meal. I would challenge you and all of our colleagues to imagine feeding a family of four. I’m a working mom. I have fed a family of four. With two sons who are 6-foot-2, I can’t fathom feeding them on $1.32 per meal. So I ask my colleagues…

Congressman Fincher: Would the Gentlelady yield?

Congresswoman Kuster: I would yield.

Congressman Fincher: I would allude back to Mr. Scott’s comments a few minutes ago of 72% of the money going to nutrition, 15%...what is the number? What percentage should…what should it be?

Congresswoman Kuster: You ask this question as though that is the question. Let me say, a lower percentage would be great, but you will be asking me later in this markup to spend billions of dollars on direct aid, on commodities, on corporations that get wealthier and wealthier and wealthier, and you’re asking me whether we can afford as a nation to feed starving children $1.32 per meal? I suggest you’re asking the wrong question about the percentage because I would love for the percentage to be less, but let me tell you…

Congressman Fincher: So would I.

Congresswoman Kuster: But let me tell you, if you are asking for funding for corporations that are doing…

Congressman Fincher: We’re not talking about corporations…

Congresswoman Kuster: We are in the 15%, and I have to say that I have providers in my state. I have producers in my state, that’s why I sit on this committee, but I can tell you their food is not getting to the people in need. So I suggest, as my cosponsor has suggested, we need a hearing on this topic and we need to solve the issue of how to feed children, but not a blanket across-the-board cut. I yield the balance of my time to the sponsor of this amendment. I am very grateful for the opportunity to stand up for both the farmers and the children in my district.

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