40TH ANNIVERSARY OF FOOD STAMPS ACT OF 1977
(House of Representatives - September 25, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 153 (Monday, September 25, 2017)]
[Pages H7438-H7439]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




              40TH ANNIVERSARY OF FOOD STAMPS ACT OF 1977

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, this Friday marks the 40th anniversary of 
the Food Stamps Act of 1977, landmark legislation that expanded the 
reach of the Food Stamps program and made it more effective and 
efficient.
  The bipartisan legislation came as a response to the severe hunger 
and malnutrition that plagued our country in the 1960s. In 1968, a CBS 
documentary called ``Hunger in America'' turned the Nation's focus to 
this terrible problem, making us all aware that even in the United 
States of America, the richest country in the history of the world, 
kids were going to school hungry and families couldn't afford 
nutritious meals.
  For the next decade, my friend and mentor, Senator George McGovern, 
the Democrat from South Dakota; and Senator Bob Dole, a Republican from 
Kansas, led the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. This 
bipartisan panel worked to examine the issue of hunger and malnutrition 
in the United States. They held field hearings to witness firsthand how 
devastating the curse of hunger was across this country. They worked 
together to educate the public and other Members of Congress on hunger, 
and worked together to find common ground on how best to tackle this 
terrible problem.
  Out of this work came important updates to the Food Stamps program. 
The Food Stamps Act of 1977 established national standards of 
eligibility for the program and eliminated the requirement that 
recipients pay for their

[[Page H7439]]

stamps. It was revolutionary and it helped to dramatically reduce 
extreme poverty and extreme hunger in the United States.
  Since the 1970s, Congress has worked to strengthen the program, 
making it even more effective and efficient. We have modernized benefit 
processing, and replaced the paper food stamps with EBT cards. We have 
added incentives for the purchase of healthy foods, and improved access 
to fresh fruits and vegetables. We have updated benefit calculations to 
exclude combat pay for military families, and allow childcare 
deductions to assist families with young children.
  In 2008, we renamed the program SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition 
Assistance Program. The modern SNAP provides millions of children, 
seniors, and other vulnerable adults with food assistance each year. It 
helps families lift themselves out of poverty, and improves health, 
educational, and economic outcomes for its recipients.
  As I hear from families in my district, I learn how powerful SNAP is 
in transforming lives. Just last week I heard the story of a graduate 
school-educated constituent who became disabled and was unable to work 
and was resistant to applying for SNAP. She didn't think she fit the 
profile of someone who needed food benefits, but she did. She applied 
for and received benefits, and now she no longer panics about where her 
next meal is going to come from.

                              {time}  1215

  This constituent wanted us to know that people who use SNAP are not 
lazy. She said: ``SNAP helps people at least not to have to worry as 
much about going to bed, school, or work hungry.''
  Another constituent shared that she and her husband rely on SNAP to 
eat healthier meals. Prior to receiving benefits, they had peanut 
butter and jelly for almost every meal. Now, with modest assistance, 
they are able to buy fruits and vegetables. While they still continue 
to struggle, they are able to enjoy more nutritious meals, and they 
have seen an improvement in their health.
  These are just a few stories of how important it is to maintain--and 
increase--these lifesaving food benefits. Still, as 42 million 
Americans continue to struggle with hunger and food insecurity, more 
needs to be done.
  In preparation for the 2018 farm bill, the House Agriculture 
Committee has conducted a thorough review of the program. We have held 
23 hearings and received testimony from dozens of expert witnesses--
both liberal and conservative--who all agree that the program is 
working.
  Based on this testimony, we have learned that there is no reason 
whatsoever to undermine the program through structural changes, block 
grants, further restrictions, more onerous requirements, or cuts, as 
some of my House colleagues have proposed.
  Instead, we should be focused on making the program even better. We 
need to make sure that anyone who needs modest food assistance benefits 
has access to them. We need to support and expand innovative programs 
that help to increase the purchasing power of SNAP, and we need to 
increase SNAP benefits which currently average a mere $1.40 per person, 
per meal, in order to provide families on the program with access to 
more nutritious food that will last them through the month.
  Mr. Speaker, SNAP works. It is our Nation's first line of defense 
against hunger and one of the most important tools we have to help lift 
our neighbors out of poverty.
  In the spirit of Senators McGovern and Dole, it is time for Congress 
to renew their bipartisan commitment to ending hunger in this country 
once and for all. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark 
Food Stamp Act of 1977, I urge my colleagues to join me in 
strengthening SNAP and working to end hunger now.

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