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Rodgers: ‘How to help end hunger this holiday season’

Angie Rodgers

The holidays are a bittersweet time at our food banks: We witness both the immense generosity of people giving to their neighbors and the staggering number of families in need. In 2017, more than 1 million Arizonans still face hunger, and nearly half of them are children.

At the Association of Arizona Food Banks, our vision is a hunger-free Arizona, and we, alongside our member food banks, work hard to ensure that everyone has access to the nutrition they need to live healthy, productive lives. As a result, we support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”), which helps more than 900,000 Arizonans access sufficient nutrition and infuses nearly $100 million into Arizona’s economy each month.

Despite its proven success providing people with short-term support during natural disasters, times of economic uncertainty, or personal crisis, SNAP faces an unmistakable threat from the next priority on the Congressional agenda: “welfare reform.”

The current administration aims to pay for tax cuts that are skewed toward corporations and high-income households by cutting funds from federal investments that serve people in need, including SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, possibly Social Security, and others. In a two-step process, here’s the path Congress follows to carry this out:

  1. The tax plan currently being finalized—which could be signed into law before Christmas—will reduce taxes for high-income households and corporations, while raising taxes for low- and middle-income households over the next ten years. The price tag? $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. How will we pay for that?
  2. In the budget resolution adopted in October, Congress outlined trillions of dollars in proposed cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, possibly Social Security, and other investments.

Everyone reading this knows someone—or is someone—who would be affected by these cuts: a friend who was recently laid-off, a single parent in your neighborhood, an elderly relative on a fixed income.

As ever during the holiday season, we are grateful for the many volunteers who donate their time and money to local food pantries. Another great way to help is to talk to your elected officials about supporting Arizona’s families to put healthy food on the table.

– Angie Rodgers is president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks.

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