By Elena Robles, Hunger Advocacy Fellow

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day and mark the many ways in which those in a mothering role enrich and bless our lives. Mothers throughout the Bible were often strong and tenacious women who endured and sacrificed much to sustain and nourish the lives of their children and families.  As we celebrate mothers today, we are mindful of one of the major challenges that many low-income mothers face daily: hunger.

Through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP), many low-income mothers can bridge some of their financial gaps and guarantee access to the food their families need to survive and to thrive. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistant program is one of our nation’s best defenses against hunger and poverty.

In 2016 SNAP helped to feed over 19 million children, almost half of SNAP recipients. SNAP serves children across all age groups. Across the country,  “32% of all children ages 0-4, 30% of children 5-11, and 21% of children ages 12-17 participate in SNAP”(Source: SNAP and Kids).  More than 80 percent of families on SNAP live below the poverty line, with an income at about about $20,000 for a household of three. SNAP is effective, in that kids from low income families who received SNAP benefits were 18% more likely to graduate from high school that low income kids who didn’t. SNAP recipients are members of our communities who are most vulnerable to experiencing hunger.

When our legislative system allocates funding and enforces a fair eligibility structure for SNAP, we as a country invest in the lives of mothers and kids who presently face challenging days, but seek futures full of opportunity.

Our country needs a SNAP program that is consistent, navigable, and contextual. We need strong funding for SNAP without any cuts, so all mothers who have been deemed eligible for benefits of this program will be allowed to continue to access it.  SNAP should maintain a structure that ensures that proposed job requirements do not serve as additional barriers for women in their work place or as bureaucratic burdens on overseeing states.  Broad base categorical eligibility is essential for an effective SNAP program, in that it allows states the flexibility to make adjustment to set standards that best fit the needs of their populations.

When we address hunger, we begin to address the worst symptoms of poverty. As you celebrate the mothers in your lives, be sure to consider how you can put your faith into action and advocate for policy that supports Mothers and children in your community and across the nation.

Click here for more information on SNAP and its impact on children.

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