Solutions Blog

Statewide View: Cuts to nutrition programs a threat to Minnesotans’ health

Via the Duluth News Tribune:

I’m worried. I’m worried that as many as 650,000 Minnesotans, many of them in the Duluth area, are on the precipice of not being able to meet basic needs for their families.

My concern is based on a very real threat of federal cuts to crucial nutrition programs such as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This program alone provides 120,000 Minnesotans access to nutritious food every month.

So, this summer, at Farmfest, I went before members of the Minnesota House Agriculture Committee to add my voice to the chorus coming from concerned Minnesotans trying to save these important federal safety-net programs.

A few statistics: Every month, 12 percent of our state’s population receives SNAP benefits. Of that number, 70 percent are seniors, children, and people with disabilities. In St. Louis County last year, SNAP benefits went to 10,311 children, 2,340 senior citizens, 6,104 adults with disabilities, and 8,391 other adults. A total of 27,146 St. Louis County residents were helped.

For Minnesota, a strong SNAP program has meant an increase in the number of seniors able to access nutritious foods, a quicker response to the challenges families face from the recession, and the maintenance of a safety net during economic crises and natural disasters.

Beyond our borders, SNAP helps to keep nutritious food on struggling families’ tables. The program is especially responsive during disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

The ability of the program to expand enrollment when unemployment rises and then contract again when the economy improves is essential to the recovery of Minnesotans. While enrollment has decreased in recent years as the economy improved, not all Americans and not all Minnesotans have enjoyed the same recovery.

As executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which engages with a network of nonprofit partners including nearly 300 food shelves, I felt it necessary to speak out about the danger of cutting SNAP.

I urge Duluth-area residents to join me in reaching out to our congressional delegations to oppose any cuts to SNAP and to fully fund the Farm Bill’s nutrition programs. They are critical to the health and well-being of Duluth, the state, and our country.

Colleen Moriarty of St. Paul is executive director of the nonprofit Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

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