This year, you are going to hear food bankers talking about the Farm Bill… a lot.
At first blush, you might wonder what the Farm Bill has to do with our work. It’s not just that we love farmers (we really, really do), but it’s also because the Farm Bill covers some of the most important programs that address food insecurity, and help people in our communities navigate through difficult times.
The Farm Bill is up for re-authorization in 2018, and therefore all parts of it are up for debate. The bill sets U.S. food and farm priorities by developing polices and funding programs that provide a safety-net for farmers and supports for low-income Americans– a combination of causes that we, as food bankers, stand behind.
What the Farm Bill covers:
The Farm Bill dictates policy around the largest, most meaningful programs affecting food insecure families, including:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Formerly called food stamps, SNAP is a cornerstone federal program to help hardworking families during difficult times. Serving more than 43 million Americans, SNAP is the largest anti-hunger program in the United States. The Feeding America network—which includes Second Harvest—helps connect eligible individuals with these vital resources through education and outreach activities.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): TEFAP is a program that purchases from farmers and distributes food to low-income Americans. TEFAP provides approximately 17-20% of the food distributed by the Feeding America network each year.
Farm to Food Bank: Between 25-40% of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. goes to waste. Feeding America is working hard to try and capture that food and help connect it to the people who need it the most. In one year, Feeding America food banks, including Second Harvest, rescue 3.3 billion pounds of food that might have otherwise gone to waste and helps distribute it to Americans in need. There is an opportunity in the 2018 Farm Bill to adjust federal policies and funding to help enable additional food donations, allowing us to expand our food rescue work to efficiently feed even more people facing hunger.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): The CSFP is a program for low-income seniors ages 60 and older. It provides nutritious food to help supplement their diet and it operates in all but two states. Local nonprofits are key anti-hunger partners in CSFP distribution; in 22 states Feeding America network members are the primary distributors for CSFP food.
Second Harvest, families, churches, businesses, communities and governments are working together to ensure that all families—regardless of what is happening in their lives at that particular moment—have the resource and nutrition needed to be their best. That is what we mean when we say that, together, we can solve hunger.
Over the course of the year, Second Harvest will be meeting with our elected officials to advocate for a strong, fully-funded Farm Bill. We will be calling on our partner network and YOU to help us with this work and to share YOUR stories.
Follow us here, on social media and sign up for our Advocacy Alerts here to take action.