Food stamps challenge. Aug. 16, 2016. (Denise Crosby / Chicago Tribune)
In this holiday season, I see acts of generosity around Maryland from local emergency food pantry donations to national charity cash donations. It's a beautiful season of giving and coming together to make sure no neighbor goes hungry.
Did you know, though, that for every 20 bags in food given to Americans in need, only one or two come from private charity? The remaining 18 to 19 come from our government's social safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Unfortunately, our new Congress is already gearing up to gut this vital program by converting it to a "block grant" to states. This will result in massive benefit cuts and hungry children and families being turned away.
As a therapist, I see the negative impacts of hunger on children every day, and approximately 20 percent of U.S. children are at risk for hunger. Nutrition programs like SNAP have remarkable effects on children's wellness: Children are healthier, do better in school, achieve more and have increased economic opportunities later in life.
This holiday season I urge us to continue to give directly to fill one bag — and also fill the other 19 bags through advocacy ("Fighting against hunger," Dec. 1). Let's contact Sen. Ben Cardin and incoming Sen. Chris Van Hollen, along with Maryland's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, to tell them we want programs like SNAP to be strengthened, not dismantled. No American should go hungry during the holidays — or beyond.