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Letter: Grand Forks will notice if SNAP dies

To the editor,

In 2017, the Store House Food Pantry of Grand Forks was named Agency of the Year by the Great Plains Food Bank. But last month the Store House announced its closing, due to no longer having space to house their charitable work.

At closing, the weekly number served ranged from 65 to 100 families, according to the Grand Forks Herald (April 19, 2018). Losing the Store House is a blow to Grand Forks. Alarmingly, even worse may come, if the farm bill designed by the majority party in the House of Representatives is passed, because it would undercut SNAP (formerly food stamps), the most comprehensive anti-hunger program serving our country, including our own community.

At present, SNAP keeps more than 8 million people out of poverty, and research has shown its impact on children can last a lifetime.

In the 2014 bipartisan farm bill, $200 million was authorized for 10 projects around the country to test various approaches to SNAP employment services, work programs, and work. Within the next few years the results of these projects will be available, and will provide accurate data on which to base changes to how SNAP benefits are delivered and what constraints should be imposed on recipients.

But the current House farm bill ignores this process, and instead rushes into burdensome and unnecessary work time limits and imposes restrictions on eligibility requirements that will cut assistance to children and their parents, people with disabilities, older workers and people who are working or in between jobs. Money that could go to feed the hungry will be shifted to creating a cumbersome bureaucracy that seems designed simply to reduce the number of people helped, and none of these drastic changes are based on solid evidence.

Nationwide, the bill will be responsible for an increased need for local food pantries and other sites that serve hungry people. If SNAP funding is slashed, we will feel the impact in Grand Forks. I hope Congress will reconsider this destructive plan and strengthen SNAP, rather than undermine it. Real people's lives depend on it.

Kathleen Ness

Grand Forks