Congressman Foster recently toured Loaves & Fishes in response to our letter regarding the Farm Bill. We are sharing the letter’s contents here. Please see pictures from the visit and tour below.
Dear Congressman Foster:
Loaves & Fishes has a vital interest in advancing the Farm Bill. We serve over 600 low income households every week, and see the first-hand struggles they face. Over half of our clients are households with children, a particularly vulnerable time to face hardship. We also serve many individuals with disabilities, seniors living alone, veterans, and single mothers – all struggling to pay their bills. The provisions of the Farm Bill play a key role in supporting these vulnerable families, and we now have an opportunity to make needed improvements that will help our community end hunger. Loaves & Fishes supports the following revisions.
•Increase the commitment to SNAP benefits included in the Farm Bill, due to the rise in families needing support. The need for supplemental income for nutrition is increasing in DuPage County, and in most large cities and urban areas. It is also a safety net that could be among the most effective when economic or natural disasters strike.
•Allow for the adjustment of the benefit allotment in a timely and relevant manner. The formulas used to calculate SNAP benefits for a household do not take into consideration the high costs in certain areas that consume income. Minimum benefits ($16 per month) are inadequate compensation for families who must depend on this support.
•Improve administrative capability for handling the increase in demand. Many of our families needing support face long wait periods and substantial difficulties in meeting with case workers.
•Strengthen parts of the Farm Bill that would support nutrition education components for our populations at risk, particularly young families. The challenges of food insufficiency can lead to eating behaviors that result in chronic illness and disease, which negatively impacts everyone’s health care costs. Families and individuals must learn and understand healthful eating patterns and dietary considerations under restricted income circumstances.
•Secure provisions of the Farm Bill that moderate the cost of milk and dairy products, which are primary sources of calcium vital to early childhood development.
Thank you for your interest in protecting the families who experience sudden or chronic food insufficiency in the DuPage Community. We look forward to working with you in support of the economic needs of our area.