To the editor,

Our country's most effective anti-poverty programs are facing unprecedented political threats from Congress. Basic health and nutritional assurance programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid play a crucial role in the lives of young children.

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I am heartened that Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown has declared reduction of childhood poverty to be a city goal. A strong local response could add a helpful supplement to the federal programs already in place.

At present, SNAP provides 95 percent of the food assistance available to low-income families. SNAP benefits often do not last the month, however. Private charities do their best to fill the gap but do not fully address the need. Therefore, if we are to provide good nutrition for all children, SNAP benefits should not be decreased as some members of Congress are proposing; rather, they should be increased. Rebates for purchasing healthful fruits and vegetables would also be beneficial, and, as the Herald recommended in its Feb. 14 editorial ("Nutrition education needs funds"), funds for nutrition education through SNAP should be maintained.

I hope policymakers will remember that decisions in Washington deeply affect working families and have a profound impact on children, here in Grand Forks and nationwide. I urge our elected leaders to focus on strengthening and expanding effective anti-poverty policies to make sure all Americans can make ends meet, and provide healthful food for all of our children.

Kathleen Ness

Grand Forks