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Farm Bill Finally Passed in Congress as Need Continues to Increase

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is encouraged that the current version of the Farm Bill, passed by the Senate in February, increased funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which provides nutritious food to food banks across the country. The Food Bank is relieved that the bill contains none of the harsh provisions that were contained in the House version that would have cut nearly $40 billion from the program and thrown 3.8 million people off SNAP in 2014. No families are removed from SNAP in this final bill.

The bill includes an additional $205 million investment in TEFAP, as well as a new dairy donation program that will benefit low-income families when dairy prices fall below a certain threshold. The additional TEFAP funds are a critical investment that will help our nation’s food banks better meet increased demand in communities. The bill also includes an $8.6 billion cut to SNAP, by eliminating a program in 16 states (Ohio does not have the program) that will cause an estimated 850,000 low-income households to lose an average $90 in monthly benefits.

This complex bill has been three years in the making. In the end, Senator Brown and Congresswoman Fudge sat on the conference committee which hammered out the details of a compromise. “We are extraordinarily grateful to Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for their hard work as members of the respective Agriculture Committees and the conference committee for their support of programs to feed struggling Ohioans,” said Anne Goodman, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. "They are ardent advocates of low-income Ohioans and fought to protect SNAP from more changes that could have been devastating."

About 23% of the food the Food Bank distributes comes from the federal government and another 16% from the State of Ohio.

SNAP stimulates the local economy by giving buying power to those in need and helps those who have fallen on hard times put food on the table and get back on their feet. Seventy-six percent of SNAP households include a senior, child or disabled person. Northeast Ohioans are turning to local hunger centers in record numbers as the need for emergency food continues to increase. One in five Cuyahoga County residents lived below the poverty line in 2012. More than one in four children in Cuyahoga County lived in poverty. Recent cuts to the SNAP program (also known as food stamps) present an additional challenge to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and hundreds of local hunger relief organizations. In 2013, the Food Bank provided more than 40 million meals to more than 750 programs.

The Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio having provided more than 40 million meals in 2013 to hungry people in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Ashland and Richland counties. Our mission is to ensure that everyone in our communities has the nutritious food they need every day. We do this through both food distribution and SNAP outreach efforts.

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