On Friday, December 7, we attended the NO MAS HAMBRE Summit in Washington, DC. As current Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute fellows working on a public policy brief that discusses how the Farm Bill’s Farmer’s Market Promotion Program can be leveraged to address Latino childhood hunger, the summit was relevant, informative, and introduced us to a host of impressive individuals and organizations dedicated to addressing hunger in the Latino community.
The dark cloud looming over the summit’s enlightening panelists and speakers inevitably was the fiscal cliff discussion, specifically the proposed budget cuts that would drastically reduce The Farm Bill’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and thus impact the Farm Bill’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, which extends acceptance of SNAP at farmer’s markets. Currently, 1,655 out of the 7,864 USDA-registered farmers markets accept SNAP. Despite less than 25 percent of registered farmers markets accepting SNAP, the amount of spending at farmer’s markets under SNAP has already jumped by 400 percent since 2008.
According to Bread for the World, 21.4 percent of Latinos participate in SNAP. Though that number may seem high, Lisa Pino, former Deputy Administrator of SNAP, reports that “only 56% of SNAP-eligible Latinos are receiving aid.” In light of these numbers and need to extend SNAP benefits to eligible Latinos, any significant budget cut made to SNAP threatens the food security of the Latino community. Perhaps most devastating, this type of budget cut would weigh heavily on Latino children who disproportionately comprise 24 percent of the 16.2 million children in America who struggled with hunger according to the 2011 USDA Household Food Security in the United States report. Perhaps most startling is how the devastating effects of hunger on a child will impact our country’s future with nearly 25 percent of children younger than five being Latino, and Latinos being the youngest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States.
As stated at the No Mas Hambre summit, this is our time to take a stand and address the issue of hunger in the Latino community—specifically childhood hunger. With debates and discussions on the fiscal cliff taking place in our nation’s capital, this is the time to contact our members of Congress and encourage them to take action and not make drastic budget cuts to SNAP or the Farm Bill overall.
As fellows with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, we promise to keep this topic at the forefront of discussion through blogs like this one and hosting a health summit on Capitol Hill in April 2013 to discuss Latino childhood hunger and how we might leverage The Farm Bill’s Farmer’s Market Promotion Program to end it. The specific date of the health summit will be shared through NO MAS HAMBRE, so please stay tuned and plan to join us in DC to continue the discussion.
The opinions expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not represent or reflect those of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).
Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves, Health Graduate Fellow at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute; Maybelline Mena-Hadyka and Jameil Saez, Public Policy Fellows at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, contributed to this article.