Do Americans Have to Say It Again? Leave SNAP Alone!

In poll after poll, taxpayers say Congress should avoid cutting nutrition assistance and spend even more on the program.
A protester rallies against SNAP cuts in Los Angeles this past June. (Photo by: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Aug 21, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Steve Holt is a regular contributor to TakePart. He writes about food for Edible Boston, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

We’ve spilled lots of ink here about the staggering increase in food-insecure Americans and the battle that nonetheless rages in the halls of power over whether the country can afford to help hungry people with their grocery bills. Over and over, we’ve demonstrated that millions of our neighbors—some we’d never expect—depend on the benefit to supplement their food purchases and feed their families. But how do most ordinary Americans feel about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?

Most support SNAP and would like to see the program bolstered, according to multiple polls compiled by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The most recent poll, released last week, continues to show that most Americans believe the government has a role in combating hunger, support SNAP, and oppose SNAP cuts. (Many House Republicans support a plan to slash the program by a staggering $40 billion over the next 10 years.)

Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of American voters polled in April said SNAP was either very (41 percent) or fairly (32 percent) important for the country. In the four FRAC polls taken since 2010, between 72 and 74 percent of Americans have said that the nutrition program is important.

The most surprising factoid from FRAC’s research? Even the majority of registered Republicans—60 percent, in fact—call the food stamp program important in combating hunger in America. Among Republican women (70 percent) and rural voters (71 percent), the number of SNAP supporters is even higher.

Seven in 10 Americans said they believe cutting the food stamp program is the wrong way to curb government spending, researchers found. Fifty-one percent of those polled strongly oppose cutting SNAP. A strong significant minority of those polled, 43 percent, think the government should allocate more funding toward the program.

In late July, Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, announced that when Congress reconvenes after its August recess, he’ll push for $40 million in cuts to the nutrition program. But critics of SNAP cuts say this would drop 10 million Americans from the program’s rolls, which has ballooned to almost 48 million during and in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Others say the cuts would disproportionately affect hungry children.

“The polling data show that Americans oppose congressional plans to slash the federal food assistance budget,” says Jennifer Adach, communications manager at FRAC. “Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents and reject attempts to cut SNAP.”