SUMMERTIME SWING AND SNAP
There is a yin-yang symmetry to this summer. There’s shimmery summer days and warm evenings spent outdoors at community concerts, where the air fills with familiar tunes churned out by bands that if you close your eyes really do sound like Queen or the Rolling Stones. They’re tailor-made for picnics and friends. Go ahead, sing along and dance like no one is watching. Summer also encourages kids to play outside and get dirty in ways that only kids know. It’s the best.
This summer also leads up to reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, scheduled for the end of September. There has been a lot of rancor over the bill, which addresses not just agriculture but also nutrition aid programs (such as SNAP). As we go to press, we know things may look very different in September than they do now.
As I see it, it boils down to this: It’s our responsibility to help people—all people—get enough healthy food for their families. It takes a village, and that village includes a wide web of caring people, nonprofit organizations and, yes, the government. I understand the arguments for less government and more self-sufficiency, I really do. When I read Kit Stolz’s article on page 38 about the impact of the Farm Bill, I can’t help but think like a mom. Moms take their responsibility of feeding their flock seriously. It’s a challenge for low-income families even with the help of food benefits, which average $1.37 per recipient, per meal, in Ventura County. No doubt that would impact what goes into the grocery bag.
“When incomes drop and family budgets shrink, food choices shift toward cheaper but more energy-dense foods,” according to an article published in Nutrition Today*. “The first items dropped are usually healthier foods—high-quality proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Low-cost energy-rich starches, added sugars and vegetable fats represent the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.”
What can we do? Read Kit’s story. Donate what you can to organizations dedicated to helping those in need—and share your voice with our government officials.
*Read more at NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2847733/