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Senators turn backs on the hungry

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Recently, The Sun drew attention to the rise of poverty and hunger in our region ("Poor people in Balto.'s suburbs outnumber those in city," May 21) while Maryland's senators turned their backs on those who need help buying food. I was saddened and disappointed by the failure of U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin to do the right thing for our at-risk neighbors and friends. Our senators voted against the farm bill amendment that would have restored the $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and help strengthen our fraying safety net.

In Baltimore, a quarter of residents fall below the federal poverty line, and half-a-million Marylanders participate in the food stamp program. Many of these recipients of food assistance are the working poor. The Sun article cites this grim statistic about Anne Arundel County: "About 7,500 residents received food stamps in the county's 2008 fiscal year, when the recession began. By last fiscal year, the number was up to nearly 20,000."

This was an uncharacteristically callous move for Senators Mikulski and Cardin. We don't know how many food-insecure Marylanders will be affected by the $4 billion in cuts, but we do know that more children and families will go to bed hungry because of their action.

Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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