'Paper Apple Campaign' Hopes to Sway Pols Against Food Stamp Cuts

Farm Bill impasse includes cuts that could leave 3 million Americans without food-assistance benefits.

A coalition of anti-hunger advocates from across Maryland is trying to show the state’s congressional representatives just how important food assistance programs are.

Maryland Hunger Solutions, an advocacy arm of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center, is heading a “Paper Apple Campaign” this week to urge U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, to push back against cuts proposed in the 2012 Farm Bill that advocates fear would cripple food-assistance programs that serve millions of Americans.

More than 700,000 Marylanders rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the federal food stamp program) to help meet their nutritional needs, according to MHS.

This summer’s crippling drought—and the ensuing clamor from farmers desperate for relief—has thrust the Farm Bill to the political fore, but Congress has been unable to pass a comprehensive farm bill, The New York Times reports.

A proposal by the House Agriculture Committee lays out a $16.5 billion cut to food stamp programs, the largest since the 1990s, Reuters reports. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that as many as 3 million people could lose their food stamp benefits under the cuts. And such a cut would hamper states’ ability to coordinate with two other low-income assistance programs, says MHS.

The MHS campaign asked supporters to download a paper apple from the MHS website and draw or write their solution to hunger in Maryland. Since the campaign began in December, more than 800 apples have been collected in Maryland, 300 of which are being delivered this week to Congress members' district offices. More than 100 have been dropped off so far, according to a spokeswoman.

“This outpouring of support for SNAP from Marylanders in every county demonstrates just how important this program is for struggling families and for our state,” Cathy Demeroto, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said in a statement. “People from all backgrounds are telling their leaders in Congress that any cut to SNAP is unacceptable.”

Among the groups joining MHS in the campaign are:

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