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Cuts to Anti-Hunger Programs in Farm Bill Immoral and Impractical

Rabbi David Saperstein: Forcing hungry Americans to bear the brunt of austerity measures is not only immoral, but impractical as well. The government must be balanced in its approach to any problem, reflecting the American spirit of compromise and the pursuit of the common good.

Contact: Sean Thibault or Ian Hainline
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20th, 2012 - In response to the Senate's rejection of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment to the Farm Bill restoring $4.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement:

"The Senate's rejection of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment restoring full funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) last night is deeply disturbing and does not reflect our highest values as a nation. SNAP makes a crucial difference for millions of Americans, all of whom need the helping hand of government to help them lead the lives they seek to live.

In permitting cuts of $4.5 billion to SNAP the Senate has turned its back on the more than 48 million Americans who faced hunger in 2010 and the more than one in five U.S. children who are hungry today. Further, by removing the link between SNAP and home heating programs, the Senate has abandoned families across the United States facing alone terrible choices, between keeping their homes at safe temperatures and putting food on the table.

The need to support those who need our assistance is clear in Jewish teachings. For example, we are taught in Deuteronomy 15:7, 8: "If however there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that God the Eternal is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs." The rabbis remind us that "sufficient for whatever he needs" implies we are commanded to maintain him at the level he is at, neither making him rich nor allowing him to fall into poverty. These texts and teachings continue to inspire us and our commitment to assisting those who are struggling.

We recognize the stakes and challenges of reducing our national deficit, as the Farm Bill seeks to do. We believe, though, that forcing hungry Americans to bear the brunt of austerity measures is not only immoral, but impractical as well. The government must be balanced in its approach to any problem, reflecting the American spirit of compromise and the pursuit of the common good.
We hope and expect that the Senate will reject the Committee's misguided and dangerous approach and instead, help lift Americans up in this time of need."

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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