That’s the only way to describe the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to cut $40 billion from the nation’s food stamp program. The impact of that attack on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on just one vulnerable segment of the population, the elderly, is potentially devastating, and an advocacy organization quickly and pointedly raised objections.
The slashing of that much from the program has the potential for “causing significant harm to vulnerable seniors and other Americans who are food insecure,” according to a statement issued by the National Council on Aging.
“Nearly three million households with seniors, 6.5 million people, lack access to enough food for a healthy life,” the statement continued. “Nearly four million people aged 60-plus are enrolled in SNAP. Yet, the typical senior household enrolled in the program has an annual income under $10,000 and only receives about $4 per day in benefits. This modest benefit helps seniors who too often are forced to choose between paying for food, medicine, rent, or other daily costs.”
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., that has as its mission improving the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
“Included in the cuts are reductions to federal funding used to reach millions of seniors who are eligible for, but not receiving, this critical benefit,” the NCOA stated. “Only about one-third of eligible seniors actually receive SNAP. State and local agencies rely on federal outreach funds to help these vulnerable seniors enroll. The bill also eliminates provisions that streamline access to SNAP, making it more difficult for individuals with modest assets but limited fixed incomes to receive the benefit. This change will drop 1.8 million low-income Americans, many of them seniors, off the program.”
The Council was not the only advocacy organization to step into the fray and make its position known in no uncertain terms.
“This House leadership appears hell-bent on attacking the most vulnerable people in our nation, the poor, millions of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said in a statement. “Most of us were brought up to believe that it’s morally wrong to kick a person when they are down, and it is morally appalling to kick millions of people when they are facing economic hardship.”