Some have criticized SNAP as being rife with fraud, waste and abuse. It’s a nice soundbite. It’s also false. According to the General Accountability Office, SNAP has one of the lowest error rates of any federal program. While there are certainly a few bad apples who have tried to scam the system, more than 98 percent of SNAP benefits in 2010 (the year for which we have the most recent data) went to the people who needed and deserved the help. If only our defense spending had the same level of efficiency.
The average SNAP benefit is $1.50 per meal per day. Many people who receive SNAP – after spending down their savings and making other serious and painful cuts to their family budgets – must still rely on food banks and food pantries. It is not a comfortable life.
During my time in Congress, I have witnessed both good and bad in the world. But seeing a hungry child is the worst. It breaks your heart. I have seen these children not only halfway around the world, but halfway down the block.
To solve this crisis requires a more holistic approach than the one we are currently pursuing, which is why I’ve urged President Obama to hold a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition. We can end hunger and food insecurity once and for all – we just need to summon the political will.
In the meantime, we must fight back against those who believe there is political gain to be found in bashing the poor.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, represents the 3rd District.