Every afternoon after work, my husband delivers leftover fruit and bagels from his company to homeless individuals who congregate near Health Care for the Homeless in downtown Baltimore. He’s earned the affectionate nickname “Bagel Guy.” His tzedakah, however much appreciated by these men and women, is a drop in a deep bucket of poverty and hunger in our city (“The Changing Face of Poverty,” March 27).
Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which has been shown to improve nutrition and health outcomes for children and adults, go beyond such tzedakah and represent our conception of tikkun olam, our shared responsibility to heal and transform our world. As both a concerned American citizen and a Jew, I am frustrated that Congress continues its assault on our neighbors struggling with poverty. The House of Representatives just released its new budget, and it would serve one purpose — to make the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer. To help pay for new costly tax cuts, it would convert SNAP into a lump-sum payment to states. This would force millions of hungry Americans off the program.
Do lawmakers forget that the primary beneficiaries of SNAP are children, the elderly, the disabled and the homeless? Do they balk at SNAP’s 96 percent accuracy and only 1 percent fraud rate? The simple fact is that if SNAP were a corporate program, Congress would be holding it up as a model of effectiveness and efficiency. When it comes to reducing hunger and poverty, our investments in SNAP are working. These investments are the tikkun olam of public policy.
I urge our members of Congress, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Andy Harris, Sen. Barbara Mikulksi and Sen. Ben Cardin, to stand up for hungry individuals and families and reject any budget that proposes to cut or restructure SNAP.