This is my pooch #BrandyGurl. She is as much a part of my family as my daughters Jazmen and TyLinne. In some ways moreso, where I have had to share my kiddos with their moms, Brandy has been my constant companion for thirteen amazing years, until we lost her to cancer last year. All this to say that I appreciate the value of pets to people and their families.
Having said that, I’m uncomfortable supporting extending SNAP coverage to pet food. Two reasons:
1. The budget for SNAP is getting tighter. Every year, Congress knocks over $100B from a ten-year funding track, starting back in 2014. with the majority of block cuts coming in 2021-2026, totaling most of the $100B. Congress nixed $135Billion back in 2014 (over $10B from California alone), $125B in 2015, etc. The majority of these annual cuts culminate in 2020/21, where CBO estimates a steep chop of $100B when SNAP converts to a block program from 2021-2026. The recent 2018 budget ups the gut to $150B. That means approximately a million families a year will be disqualified from SNAP until the big chop in 2021-2026, and I honestly can’t find any estimates of that impact anywhere.
Yet the need is glaringly growing. Homelessness is skyrocketing here in Sacramento in recent years, beyond anything I have ever seen in the past. Clearly, we are not getting any more money to earmark for pets to be included in SNAP appropriations, so that means even with the pet provision, families will still have to get by on less, year after year, as we also have more families no longer qualify, year after year. Which stokes my fears that Congress will eventually see the pet provision as waste, with the argument “if you are poor, you shouldn’t have pets” and be emboldened to take even deeper cuts to curb the perceived waste. As the number of impoverished climbs, many families would already have pets by the time they become eligible, rather than getting one after the fact. And working with Homeless in Sacramento, I have seen with my own eyes the dire need for pet considerations as we tackle the growing problem of poverty in our region. I’m just not sure that SNAP is the answer.
2. I am still haunted by seeing poor people getting by on pet food when I was in the South and in the projects in the East. Elderly and young alike, trying to make the best out of nothing. This was the 1980s, the height of Reaganomics, and I couldn’t believe what children I knew were having to eat whenever they could. I can’t believe this was happening in the United States. I don’t know if they were on food stamps or not then, I was too young to be aware of those kinds of things. I didn’t even know I was getting free lunch until the other kids were teasing me about my lunch pass. My fear is that families being squeezed by point #1 above will resort to pet food as an economical (yet inhumane) option to keep food on the table as times get tighter. And of course, those of us not living on that kind of level won’t be made aware of such conditions, because they would be too embarrassed to say, and we’d be too inconvenienced to listen.
Don’t get me wrong, if this measure passes, I’m not going to throw a hissy fit. My objection is that people who have nothing to do with food stamps are taking a very typecast fantasy view of a very real and very disturbing problem.
If the state of California is about to lose BILLION$ in federal SNAP funding, my bigger question is what are we doing to prepare for such a dramatic shortfall? We are already struggling with rampant homelessness right now. What happens in 2021? Are we going to just wait to see what happens?
Source: Petition: Allow SNAP benefits for pet food – KCRA