The Moral Dimension of Hunger

By Mike Clifford, Florida News Connection…

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Recent polls show major public opposition to cutting food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, local religious leaders in Florida are concerned that some lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are not getting the message.

Michael McCarron, executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference, is asking Congress to consider the moral dimension to the billions of dollars in cuts lawmakers are now considering making to SNAP over the next 10 years. He predicts those cuts would fall on those least able to handle them.

“Hungry kids, poor families, very vulnerable seniors and people who have not been able to find work, or are out of work – they are going to be impacted the most, and they also have the least voice.”

Some lawmakers have suggested the cuts can easily be offset by help from agencies and local religious institutions, but McCarron says churches are also feeling the effects of a tough economy.

Debra Susie, executive director of Florida Impact, says all 6,000 local churches and synagogues would need to come up with around $50,000 apiece – beyond what they are already doing to help the hungry each year – in order to make up for the major cuts being considered in Congress.

“In Florida, what that would translate to over 10 years would be a burden of $3 billion created for our churches and synagogues across the state.”

Susie applauds Florida Reps. Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson for signing a House Resolution opposing the SNAP cuts in the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the Farm Bill.

The latest poll from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) finds 77 percent of Americans feel that cutting food-assistance programs is the wrong way to go about reducing government spending. More poll numbers are available at