Proposed changes to House farm bill could worsen the hunger problem

The Baltimore Sun accurately portrayed Maryland’s food insecurity issues in (“Many of Maryland’s Hungry Are Hidden,” November 20).” Thanksgiving is different if you are experiencing hunger and poverty. That’s especially true this year. Congress is delinquent in passing a Farm Bill, which is supposed to be reauthorized every five years. While the bill funds a myriad of farm programs, it also funds the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program.

Why has it failed to cross the finish line? Because unlike the bipartisan Senate version of the bill, the House insisted on adding draconian “work requirements,” which would deny nutrition assistance to thousands of Marylanders and millions of Americans. The term “work requirements” is actually a misnomer. It’s merely a political term to cover up what’s really happening. Most of the people who are on the food supplement program are children, seniors and people with disabilities; no one expects them to work. Of the remaining recipients, most of them are already working, they just don’t have enough hours or enough income to escape poverty, hence their eligibility.

Congress can still resolve this issue before adjourning. But it is important that Maryland members of Congress insist on the Senate version of the bill to ensure struggling Marylanders are not denied the nutrition assistance they need to keep food on the table for themselves and their families.

Michael J. Wilson

The writer is director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.

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