Farm Bill Would Punish The Poor

It’s unconscionable that some of our nation’s leaders think it’s a good idea to punish people who are struggling to find work or are working at low-paying jobs with unpredictable hours. But that’s exactly what the recently-proposed “Farm Bill” would do, leaving even more New Jersey residents hungry and worrying about how they will feed themselves, their children, their elderly parents.

We see hunger every day at our food pantry, the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges. Because we represent four houses of faith in the affluent communities of Short Hills and South Orange, our definition of “Community” includes the nearby vulnerable and food insecure populations of Orange and East Orange. This is why the food pantry that we run, The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges is located in Orange and endeavors to keep up with a growing need for food and other essential necessities like diapers.

Most of the folks who come to us are the “working poor”, people working at low-paying jobs with unpredictable hours, no benefits and no cushion when they face layoffs or other gaps in work. Many of our households include children, veterans and seniors with diabetes and heart disease.

Under this proposed Farm Bill, which sets policy and funding for both nutrition programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and farm subsidies, Congressman Michael Conaway, (R-Texas), wants to take food aid away from people if they can’t find a job and make it more difficult for working families to qualify.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates 35,000 individuals in New Jersey will lose their benefits if this bill passes. Our food pantry already struggles to keep up with an ever increasing need for food, serving 275 households each week. If this punitive proposal passes, we will see even more people coming to us, needing basic sustenance to survive.

We urge our Congressional representatives, especially Congressman Leonard Lance representing our District 7, to oppose this damaging proposal and work to create a bi-partisan solution that will give people the food aid they need, while helping them find jobs that pay enough for them to support their families.

The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges Executive Board:

Peggy Baggaley, Short Hills (Christ Church, Short Hills)

Jodi Cooperman, Short Hills (Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun, Short Hills)

Janet Schwamm and Cyndy Wyatt, Short Hills (Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange)

Diane Stein, Jersey City (Congregation Beth-El, South Orange)

This article provided by NewsEdge.