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Bread for the World applauds President Obama

WI Staff | 1/26/2011, 10:16 a.m.

Bread for the World Urges against Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Hungry and Poor People

Bread for the World applauds President Obama's commitment to creating jobs and balancing the budget, as he expressed during his State of the Union address
tonight.

"As a nation, we must address our ballooning budget deficit. Yet at the same time, we must ensure that hungry and poor people do not bear the brunt of deficit reduction efforts," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and a Lutheran minister. "Cutting or reducing our investments in programs that benefit the least among us is morally wrong."

Many American families continue to struggle in the wake of the recession, and they cannot afford cuts to safety-net programs such as school breakfasts and lunches, unemployment insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and tax credits for the working poor. These anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs make up only 14 percent of the federal budget (excluding health insurance and Social Security). Cutting them now would be a huge mistake.

Any cuts to social programs could be extremely detrimental to African Americans, as one in four lives below the federal poverty line. In fact, African Americans make up 12.4 percent of the population but 19.6 percent of all participants in SNAP and WIC. Ninety percent of African-American children will receive SNAP benefits at some point before age 20, compared to 49 percent of all U.S. children.

The cuts would also hurt our economy when our recovery is still fragile. Investing in programs such as SNAP provide an immediate boost to local economies. Low-income families spend SNAP benefits immediately, which spur greater economic activity in their communities. Eighty percent of all SNAP benefits are redeemed within two weeks of receipt, and 97 percent are spent within a month. Every dollar in SNAP benefits generates almost $1.75 in economic stimulus to local communities.

"We have to continue to invest in social programs, which cost the government only 14 cents out of every federal dollar," said Rev. Beckmann. "We cannot hurt those who can least afford it. It is what Jesus would ask of us."

In addition to the 14 percent spent on safety-net programs, less than one percent of the federal budget is spent on poverty development assistance for hungry and poor people around the world.

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Bread for the World (www.bread.org www.bread.org is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.