I have received several inquiries as to how the debt ceiling deal and proposed federal budget cuts will affect our No Kid Hungry strategy. Most people assume it will make our work harder. In the broad sense that is likely to be the case, especially because the nation’s economic growth is much slower than expected and the mandated budget cuts are unlikely to change that. Also, some important hunger programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program face potential cuts.
But while there is not much in the deal to be happy about, there are some rays of light regarding the specific anti-hunger and child nutrition programs that are core to our No Kid Hungry campaign strategy. Here are three examples:
First, the entitlement programs that are the focus of our efforts to enroll more children: e.g. school breakfast, summer meals, and food stamps are not included in the proposed cuts. Although that could change in the future, this means everything we are doing in our No Kid Hungry state campaigns has as great a potential as ever to dramatically reduce and eventually end childhood hunger.
Second, the debt ceiling package reflects an implicit bi-partisan endorsement of our strategy which is based on the conviction that these programs work, they protect those most vulnerable and least responsible for their situation, and that they should be protected even when the economy and the political climate change – perhaps especially when the economy and political climate change.
Third, the legislative cuts in non-entitlement discretionary spending makes our strategy all of the more necessary and important. As other essential services, especially in health and education are cut, the safety net represented by the child nutrition entitlement programs stands out as all the more vital an oasis in the desert.
So we are more determined than ever to expand our No Kid Hungry campaign, with a renewed sense of urgency, to protect more children by ensuring they are enrolled in programs available where they live learn and play. I hope you will join our efforts to advocate for the vital role these programs play and to protect them from cuts, especially as the new Congressional Joint Committee debates their future.
Share Our Strength board member Bob Greenstein, the director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has an analysis of the policy implications of the debt ceiling deal on the Center’s website @ http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3555