Notes from the Board President

SNAPAs the Federal Government shutdown continues, it may surprise you to see that the Supplemental Nutrition Program is not considered “essential.”

We note that paying Congress IS considered essential, but feeding people is not.

In November, our SNAP recipients will see a cut in their food subsidy by $11. When the average SNAP funding amounts to about $1.50/meal, $11 per month is hardly insignificant. Our main source of food, Foodlink of Rochester, has already told us our grant for food going forward will be cut by 15% because of funding cuts to their program.

Meanwhile our numbers are up by more than 25% over last year. Clearly a 15% cut in funding, the shuttering of the SNAP program – even if temporary – and a 25% rise in the folks needing food from the House of Concern and the other four food pantries in Seneca County is a recipe for disaster.

We already have more than 1300 folks who are food insecure just counting the folks coming to the Hose of Concern. Last month we were responsible for providing more than 20,000 meals.

Our community has always been generous, but the current need is overwhelming and the situation is only getting worse. Please consider raising your donation to the House of Concern this year.

Minimum Wage IncreaseAlso consider letting your representatives know if you think government priorities need to change. Consider the fact that in Seneca County, businesses receive several millions of dollars in tax breaks annually for job creation. That sounds like money well spent, but many of those jobs will require further subsidies on the other end because they do not provide enough income to allow the wage-earners to feed their families. A full time minimum wage worker cannot feed a family. It’s that simple. The majority of the folks coming to the House of Concern are working. Those who are not are most likely to be children, disabled or elderly.

We don’t have any “surfer dudes” in Seneca County, and SNAP is one of the least abused and most effective government programs in existence in spite of the spin that the media puts on the extremely rare cases of abuse.

We are left with few choices. If¬†corporate subsidies are a good thing, even if the jobs created do not pay a living wage, we must be prepared to increase the subsidies on the other end so people can get the food they need if the jobs being created do not pay enough to support a wage-earner’s family. Currently we are subsidizing the creation of minimum wage jobs and cutting subsidies to the people who work those jobs. Of course many firms also use their subsidies to help create good paying jobs (Goulds Pumps is a good example), but a look at the statistics shows by far the largest numbers of newly created jobs are at the lowest end of the wage spectrum. The imbalance is very real and we see it in the rising numbers at the House of Concern. By far the largest increase in our numbers comes from people who are working.

Alternatively, we can ask employers to pay their workers a living wage so they will not need to rely on programs like SNAP, which would have the added benefit of doing away with the cost of administering food programs and give folks the ability to get off of subsidies. Shouldn’t having a full-time job mean you can feed your kids?

A continuation of the status quo will only result in more hungry people in Seneca County, and it is unsustainable. We cannot feed more people with less money.

Stephen Beals
President, Board of Directors
Seneca County House of Concern