Last month, as we anxiously awaited the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Florida, we were told to stock up on medications, non-perishable items, gas, batteries, and water. This created a flurry of activity at grocery stores and gas stations.
But what about those of us who don’t have money to stock up? What about those whose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds/food stamps have been exhausted? What about the frail and the elderly who may not get their meal delivery? What about the kids who rely on their free lunch at school as their main meal of the day and school is closed? What about the working poor, who make too much to qualify for public benefits, but their employer closes the business and if they don’t work, they don’t get paid?
Many people in Florida don’t have the luxury of stocking up. When an emergency hits they have no safety net. Disaster relief is so important to so many people. We thank the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Florida Department of Children and Families for releasing SNAP payments for Floridians early this month as the storm approached, and for the SNAP replacement benefits offered to those SNAP recipients who lost food due to the hurricane power outages. We only have to look to the Bahamas to realize how lucky we were in Florida this time.
All of this being said, it is sad to me that the Trump administration tries to whittle away at these essential benefits for those most in need. The recently-enacted changes to the Public Charge long-standing policy by the Department of Homeland Security has a chilling effect on immigrants who may be entitled to SNAP assistance, but are now too fearful to seek help. As if that wasn’t enough, USDA is now proposing eliminating a method of calculating benefits under SNAP that would cut 9% of SNAP recipients from the program in Florida.
Having enough food to eat is a basic human right. In a country as wealthy as the United States of America, no one should have to go without food, especially children and the elderly who are disproportionately effected by these rule changes.
The 2019 United States Census data came out September 10 and, once again, people began debating its accuracy and sides were chosen on how well we are really doing on the war on poverty. Florida Impact to End Hunger is ready to continue fighting this war. Hunger should not exist in this country. There is still much work to be done.