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Just Harvest, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Participating in National SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge
by Emily Cleath Monday, Jun. 10, 2013 at 7:12 PM
emilyc@justharvest.org 412-431-8960 16 Terminal Way

Staff at the anti-hunger organization Just Harvest along with four Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writers will be participating in a SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge June 10-14.

As Farm Bill negotiations continue and some members of Congress are proposing billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), staff at the anti-hunger organization Just Harvest along with four Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writers will be participating in a SNAP Challenge June 10-14. Each person will be allowed to spend only $6 a day on food for the five days, which comprises the weekly food purchasing allotment of those living on food stamps.

This local SNAP Challenge coincides with one being hosted by the Out of Poverty Caucus from June 12 to 19, 2013, in which 26 members of Congress as well Congressional staffers and many national, state, and local organizations will take part.

“We invited the three U.S. Representatives from Allegheny County, Keith Rothfus (12th), Mike Doyle (14th), and Tim Murphy (18th) to take part in the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge. Doyle had a scheduling conflict and we have yet to hear back from Rothfus and Murphy. We hope they recognize how vital this program is to struggling Pennsylvanians and will advocate against cuts to the program,” said Just Harvest’s grassroots organizer Maria Muzzie. “As the Farm Bill debate continues in Washington, we are calling on Congress to do the right thing by protecting and strengthening this program so it can more effectively fight hunger and poverty.”

According to a recent poll released by the Food Research and Action Center, seven in 10 voters say that cutting food stamp funding is the wrong way to reduce government spending. Yet, the House is poised to start debate on a Farm Bill, which contains $20 billion in cuts to SNAP/Food Stamps. These cuts are on top of ones already scheduled to take place in November when temporary increases approved in the 2009 economic recovery act will expire for 47 million people – this will mean, for example, about $25 less in monthly food stamps for a family of four.

As so many in PA continue to face economic struggles, food stamps serve as a critical resource for both families and for communities. More than one in six households in PA reported they struggled to afford enough food in 2012. Eighty-three percent of all SNAP/Food Stamp benefits go to households with a child, senior, or disabled person. And each dollar spent in SNAP benefits generates nearly double that in local economic activity.

“SNAP/Food Stamps is helping the neediest and most vulnerable in our society. Any cut to this program would take food out of the refrigerator, and Congress should be looking at ways to help – not harm – struggling families across the nation and in our state,” said Rochelle Jackson, policy advocate for Just Harvest.

Just Harvest staff participating in the challenge will be documenting their experiences on http://dylanmjustharvest.tumblr.com/, http://justharvest.org/index.php/blog, http://www.facebook.com/JustHarvest, , and https://twitter.com/JustHarvest.

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About the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge
The SNAP Challenge gives participants a view of the struggle to obtain adequate food that is faced by millions of low-income Americans. Most participants take the Challenge for one week, living on about $4 per day worth of food – the average food stamp benefit. Challenge participants are forced to make food shopping choices on a limited budget, and learn how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy without adequate resources. To learn more about the Challenge and its history, visit the Food Research and Action Center’s website.
http://frac.org/initiatives/snapfood-stamp-challenges/

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Just Harvest educates, empowers and mobilizes people to eliminate hunger, poverty, and economic injustice in our communities by influencing public policy, engaging in advocacy, and connecting people to public benefits.

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