Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The need for food assistance has increased dramatically during the economic downturn. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis, the number of clients being served nationally by the emergency food system has increased 14 percent since 2010.
Meeting the need for food assistance is especially critical for our most vulnerable citizens – pregnant and nursing women, infants, children, and seniors for whom the consequences of hunger and poor nutrition are the most severe. Many of our friends and neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet turn to local charities and food banks. That is why it is critical that we maintain support for the charitable food system and funding for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently helps to feed more than 46 million Americans, 21 million of which are children.
I have been a strong supporter of SNAP, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and other initiatives in Congress. Our office also works closely with the Houston Food Bank and the Texas Food Bank Network on this important matter.
The Farm Bill was created during the Great Depression to give American farmers a safety net when the market bottomed out. Federal farm subsidies should be directed toward helping the small family farmer whose livelihood can be deeply affected by weather changes and crop prices. I do not support efforts to deliver disproportionately large amounts of subsidies to the largest, most profitable agriculture businesses. I also believe that nutrition and food programs should continue to be an integral component of the farm bill. I strongly support funding programs that help families and individuals in need.
Genetically Engineered Food
As science has advanced, it has given us the ability to produce genetically engineered food. Also known as genetically modified organisms, these meats, fruits, and vegetables have been in our food supply for about twenty years. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has oversight over safety, labeling, and other regulatory requirements for the food we eat, whether it comes straight from the ground or in a package at the store, and has determined that some genetically modified organisms are safe for human consumption. These types of scientific advancements can lower the cost of food and increase access to food, both in this country and across the world, and help address the challenges faced by hunger and malnutrition. However, concerns persist that there are hazards to farming genetically modified organisms - from health and environmental concerns to the security of our food supply because a single strain of a disease can more easily wipe out organisms that are identical.
As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, we are tasked with oversight of the FDA. I am committed to ensuring that the decisions made by the FDA – everything from genetically engineered food to medical devices to food safety and veterinary issues – are in the best interests of the American people.
Honeybees are natural pollinators that help flowers and produce and grow. Bee pollination is essential to the production and harvest of our nation’s food like fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with an estimated impact of $15-$20 billion in the United States alone. Much of our food supply is actually dependent on the honey bee pollination, which is why I am very concerned about the honey bees. Over the last decade, the honey bee population has been in steep decline. Entire bee colonies have disappeared, leaving behind only their honey comb and honey, which scientists call Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Studies are still being done to investigate what is causing their decline, but it is believed that pesticides, natural predators, and a lack of nutritious pollen for the bees are now factoring into CCD and honeybee deaths. I have supported agricultural conservation programs and support improving federal coordination in addressing the documented decline of pollinators, signing on to multiple letters with my colleagues to make sure CCD is being seriously addressed by all federal agencies. We must do everything we can do to promote the long-term viability of honeybees and other beneficial insects in agriculture.
More on Agriculture
(Houston, TX) – On Monday, January 6, 2014, Congressman Gene Green led a discussion at the Houston Food Bank about cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and renewal of Emergency Unemployment Insurance. Joining the discussion were Brian Greene, Houston Food Bank President and Deon Hoffman, a local resident, recipient of SNAP and Houston Food Bank client.