CLEARFIELD – Hunger exists in every zip code, and Clearfield County officials are taking up a fight to keep matters from getting any worse.
On Tuesday the commissioners passed a resolution to oppose federal efforts to structurally change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
If approved, changes would make the program unable to respond efficiently and effectively to the economy, natural disasters or challenging personal circumstances faced by those who need food assistance.
The commissioners are calling upon federal officials to protect the SNAP program from harmful budget cuts.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution (219-206) that proposes for the Agriculture Committee, which oversees SNAP, to cut spending by $10 billion over 10 years.
The Senate must vote on the budget proposal. The final budget must be passed by the House and Senate later this fall.
In Pennsylvania, more than 1.8 million residents struggle with food insecurity issues, including 10,290, or 12.6 percent, in Clearfield County.
The county has a population of 80,596 residents. Of that, 13,004 residents receive an average of $1.39 million per month in SNAP benefits; on average in Clearfield County, a SNAP benefits recipient receives $108 per month.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, county residents who rely upon SNAP to help put food on the table in their homes include 4,019 children, 2,096 seniors and 2,194 disabled adults (ages 18 – 59 years).
“We hear stories from people who have fallen on hard times,” said Nanci Rommel of the Coalition Against Hunger. “They are struggling to pay their rent, with their vehicle expenses and to make ends meet.”
In addition to monthly SNAP benefits, Rommel said residents are already relying upon Emergency Food Assistance Programs provided by the county’s food banks and by other charities and churches.
The commissioners are urging federal officials to pursue solutions that address obstacles facing communities to ensure healthy foods and eating habits and to fight hunger.