Mariana Chilton Provides Feedback to House Agriculture Committee
Mariana Chilton provided feedback to the House Agriculture Committee on their two year long series of hearings on the past, present, and future of SNAP. Mariana was invited to provide feedback as she testified at one of the hearing to discuss the findings of the National Commission on Hunger.
Below is an except of her feedback and you can read her complete remarks here.
Thank you, Chairman Conaway and members of the House Agriculture Committee for your work over the past two years taking close look at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Thank you also for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Committee’s hearings on the Past, Present, and Future of SNAP.
After 18 hearings with over 60 Expert Witnesses providing deep investigations into the mechanics and benefits of SNAP, it is a testament to the program that SNAP can withstand such scrutiny and continue to be recognized as a great American assistance program. As you heard over and again, SNAP is key to addressing and preventing hunger: it boosts local economies, it promotes child health, and buoys people out of poverty when their wages are not enough. You also heard that it has an extremely low fraud rate, it is responsive to economic downturns, and it is a lifesaver for families during hard times.
SNAP is so much more than a nutrition program. It is central to our national security. As a public health research scientist with over twenty years of experience in studying the health effects of hunger, I can tell you that hunger is very harmful to our American way of life. It weakens us as a nation because it causes physical, emotional and mental hardship. It deeply affects a child’s development, depresses teenagers to the point of suicide, muffles the ability of adults to contribute to our workforce, exacerbates disability, and haunts our elders.
SNAP is the first line of defense in addressing hunger, and it provides the key to ensuring our country is resilient, powerful, and strong.
I was delighted to provide testimony during one of the Committee’s hearings as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan National Commission on Hunger. At the point of providing our testimony, we were still finalizing our report. I am happy to share that our unanimous, bipartisan report Freedom from Hunger: An achievable goal for the United States of America was released in January 2016. The Commission made twenty outstanding recommendations for addressing hunger, and we made 10 recommendations for improvements to SNAP. I still stand by those recommendations, and I revisit the most critical improvements below.
I make three recommendations: 1) Protect SNAP as an entitlement program, 2) make improvements to SNAP, and 3) take action now.