Even with campaign season slowly consuming all areas of city government, some good work is still getting done.
Last Wednesday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced that she would take the SNAP challenge starting this week. With the SNAP challenge, the mayor pledges to live within the same budget as allocated for a SNAP participants… the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). That means she must be able to eat all food on a mere $28 per week, or $4 per day.
Perhaps just as important as taking the challenge itself is how Mayor Parker addressed the continuing debate over the need for food stamps. Many in the Right Wing have argued that SNAP is a wasteful program, and that there is plenty of support for impoverished citizens through their local churches, homeless shelters or food banks. Standing beside Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, here’s how they addressed the issue at a recent Press Conference…
“One nice coffee at Starbucks would blow your SNAP budget for the day.” Mayor Parker said. She also reminded everyone that besides the money allotment, she has an additional resource with fresh foods from her vegetable and herb garden.
“Many people in the community look at the Houston Food Bank and think ‘ah yes… this is how low income families can access food. What they don’t realize is we’re actually one of the last threads of the safety net. Compared to SNAP, we’re actually tiny. If you summed up the output of every food bank in the country, together it’s less than the SNAP allotment for Texas alone. We are not a substitute for SNAP.” Brian Greene said.
This is something important to realize on a national basis. The nation’s food insecurity needs are far too great to be met simply by current charitable giving. To keep 50 million people fed, government programs like SNAP must continue, and truthfully should be expanded. In the midst of a bitter campaign for the Mayor’s race, Parker should rightly be applauded for taking on service efforts like the SNAP challenge. This in my opinion, is a better move than any political ad.