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Strategic Alliance Rapid Response: November 21, 2013

Make the Media Your Platform to Stand Against SNAP Cuts 

The buzz on Capitol Hill is that the Senate and House Farm Bill conference committee could finalize a joint Farm Bill proposal as early as Thanksgiving. Proposals currently on the table include huge cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps 47 million low-income Americans buy food for their families. The current House proposal would slash nearly $40 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years–on top of $5 billion in cuts that already went into effect November 1. The current Senate proposal would cut $4 billion over 10 years. If the devastating House cuts are adopted, anywhere from 2 million to 3.8 million people would lose all food assistance, 850,000 households would see their benefits cut by an average of $90 per month and 210,000 children would lose access to free school meals. 

Now is the time for advocates to push their Congressional representatives to preserve vital SNAP benefits for low-income families. The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday provides a prime hook for advocates to make the case by writing an Op-ed, letter to the editor or blog post or by posting a well-crafted comment on a news story. With the deadline fast approaching, we need to act fast and make our voices heard. 

No family should go hungry this holiday season—it’s a time for family, friendship, and full bellies. We can capitalize on this imagery to underscore what’s at stake if SNAP is cut. As an example, check out this Op-ed—“The season for empty plates”—that Prevention Institute’s William L. Haar co-wrote for the Daily Californian: 

As grocery stores begin stocking their shelves with turkey paraphernalia, menorahs and Christmas lights, America’s poor await a grim gift from the federal government: brutal cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

This week, we’re bringing you a few of the strongest Op-eds and news stories. Below are some excerpts from those pieces you can make use of in your own media advocacy efforts: 

  • From Nancy Biberman’s Huffington Post blog: “These numbers simply don't add up to deficit reduction. Cuts in nutritional assistance today will lead to increasing health care costs in the near and long term.”
  • From Joseph Stiglitz's blog in the New York Times: “By cutting back on food stamps, we are ensuring the perpetuation of inequality, and at that, one of its worst manifestations: the inequality of opportunity[…] We are endangering our future because there will be a large coterie of people at the bottom who will not live up to their potential, who will not be able to make the contribution that they could have made, to the prosperity of the country as a whole.” 
  • A CBS News story notes that every dollar invested in SNAP generates approximately $1.70 in economic activity. Cuts to SNAP will harm business, as well as families: “Another possible casualty [of SNAP cuts] -- everyone else. The left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think-tank, says that the November benefit cuts will curtail the flow of money into every U.S. state, in some cases by hundreds of millions of dollars[…T]hat could dent revenues for the nearly 250,000 groceries and supermarkets around the country that accept SNAP payments, potentially affecting everyone from store workers and truck drivers delivering food to consumers, as food sellers raise prices to offset the loss of revenue."

Here are some ways you can take action:

  • Pitch your story to local media. Check out Strategic Alliance's tips for pitching your story to a reporter and preparing for an interview
  • Build your story around authentic voices. Credible messengers add dimension and authenticity to your arguments. Using community members—SNAP recipients or people who work at food banks—to tell the story of SNAP from the frontlines will help drive your story home. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article – Bay Area Food Banks Short on Food Ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday –provides a powerful example of the local impact of SNAP cuts during the holidays.
  • Use local data. California Food Policy Advocates just released their County Nutrition & Food Insecurity Profiles, which provide local data on food access and how federal nutrition programs are working to promote food security in California communities.
  • Share news clips, Op-eds and blogs with your representative.  It’s especially important to place news stories voicing your support for SNAP if you live in an area represented by one of the four California representatives on the Agriculture conference committee -- and Twitter makes this easy: Jim Costa (@RepJimCosta), Jeff Denham (@RepJeffDenham), Gloria Negrete-McLeod (@RepMcLeod), and Ed Royce (@RepEdRoyce). (Hat tip: California Food Policy Advocates and Public Health Institute.) 
  • Connect with Strategic Alliance on Twitter (@Strat_Alliance) to share your efforts with us and get more updates on this issue. Include our handle and we’ll re-tweet your messages with our followers, too. Please consider tweeting this alert to your followers: #NoSNAPCuts this Thanksgiving - new media #advocacy tools from @Strat_Alliance http://bit.ly/1bVdX8y
Get something in the news? Send us a quick note so we can make sure your efforts are recognized.

Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters

A new joint report by PolicyLink and The Food Trust reveals that accessing healthy foods remains a challenge for many families living in low-income areas and communities of color and that neighborhood food retail is associated with better health outcomes and stimulates economic activity.

Mapping SNAP Cuts

An interactive map put together by the Pew Charitable Trust illustrates where SNAP benefit cuts are falling the hardest.

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