Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

A Farm Bill to Feed the Hungry

June 19, 2013

  Elizabeth Nye

Psalm 146:5-9 God is just and feeds the hungry

Elizabeth Nye

Catholic social teaching tells us that we must help those who are most vulnerable in the world. In accordance with this principle, Pope Benedict XVI addressed hunger at the United Nations Conference saying, “Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty.” In a world where 3.5 million children die from hunger each year, it is essential that we reconsider policies that threaten to undermine food assistance programs.

The recent passage of the Farm Bill in the Senate, although imperfect, addresses the key issue of hunger and strives to invest in environmental conservation programs. 80% of the Farm Bill is dedicated to funding the SNAP Benefits program (formerly known as Food Stamps), the main food assistance program in the U.S. Other portions of the bill are dedicated to farm policy, environmental protections, and conservation efforts. Still, $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP made it into the Senate bill, while the upcoming House Farm Bill cuts $21 billion.

SNAP serves the most vulnerable Americans, a majority of recipients being children, elderly, and disabled people. When I consider these cuts to the Farm Bill, I think of my elderly grandmother who has relied on SNAP for years. Surely, my grandma who has dedicated her life to raising her children and serving God deserves nourishment. I also think of the farmers, some of whom have been cultivating on the same land for generations, whose crops have been overtaken by corporate demands and opt for unsustainable farming practices in order to keep up.

Until Congress reaches an agreement on the Farm Bill, I pray that they will consider the most vulnerable people in the world and realize that all have a right for their bodies to be nourished. I pray that they will realize that our earth’s resources are finite, and deserve to be protected.