Costa pledges to build stronger nutrition programs

Dec 1, 2020
Press Release

(FRESNO, CA) -  Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who is seeking the House Committee on Agriculture chairmanship, commits to making nutrition programs among his top priorities in the 117th Congress:  

“No American should go hungry,” Costa said. “I see poverty every day in my district, where 25 percent of my constituents rely on SNAP to feed their families. These hard-working people need a hand up to get by. My track record is clear – I have fought against any and all who sought to roll back these benefits, and I’ve worked to expand programs that feed the most vulnerable Americans. Every American deserves to have enough food to eat.”  

“Congressman Costa is a champion of food and nutrition programs,” said Bill Gibbs, the Executive Director of the Merced County Food Bank. “In the rural area of Merced, around a quarter of our population depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Congressman has stood up against all efforts to cut this program, and has been a strong advocate for expanding benefits to help more in our communities. Many hard-working people rely on SNAP to make ends meet. The Congressman understands and empathizes with them, and advocates for programs and policies that support the needs of food insecure people in our community.”

According to a new study from Columbia University researchers, 55 million people in the U.S. live in poverty. That number includes 8 million people who entered poverty since May 2020, with Black and Hispanic people and children highly impacted. We have a food insecurity epidemic.  

In the U.S., over 35 million people are food insecure. Nearly 43 million people depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help put food on the table, including nearly a quarter of the constituents of CA-16. The vast majority are working Americans with nearly a third of all households nationwide having two or more family members working to provide for their families.  

 “I view SNAP as a critical safety net, providing our communities with the foundation to grow and thrive,” Costa said. “This is not the time to consider cuts or to put up more roadblocks to people receiving the help they need. We must be vigilant in our fight to maintain and expand our nutrition mission.”  

For example, as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, Rep. Costa created an innovative pilot program to establish best practices for SNAP Employment and Training programs.

“Congressman Costa has a proven track record on supporting programs that help our most vulnerable people,” said Luis Santana, the Executive Director of Reading and Beyond for the Fresno Bridge Academy. “In the past two Farm Bills he successfully led efforts to build programs across the country that help millions of Americans lift themselves out of poverty while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.”

Other Costa accomplishments on nutrition, include:  

  • Blocking harmful Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rules for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) and Categorical Eligibility that would deny our most vulnerable communities with needed support 
  • Advocating for increased nutrition assistance to American families impacted by COVID-19 
  • Introducing the Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act to provide $25 million for states to expand and establish new farm to food bank projects and feed families during the COVID-19 crisis 
  • Fighting for $67 billion in funding for SNAP in FY20 Appropriations bill 
  • Establishing education and training programs designed to help SNAP recipients become self-sufficient, including:  
    • Continued funding for SNAP with no changes to already existing work requirements, to help fight hunger and food insecurity  
    • $103.9 million in funding for SNAP Education and Training Programs  
    • Introducing the Results Through Innovation Act of 2017 to bolster the federal funding for employment and training programs for individuals receiving SNAP benefits.  
  • In the 2008 Farm Bill:  
    • Establishing SNAP with $5.4 billion investment.  
    • Increased the minimum benefit for SNAP to $14 and indexing it to future inflation.  
    • Expanding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program by providing $1 billion to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income children in schools  
    • Strengthening assistance for food banks by providing $1.256 billion to help low-income families  
    • Expanding food assistance to low-income seniors by $50 in order to help them purchase agricultural products at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and other community-supported agriculture programs.  

“Congressman Jim Costa cares about people and is a champion for everyone,” said Pao Yang, President & CEO of the Fresno Center. “His efforts to ensure community organizations like The Fresno Center have access to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has helped put food on the tables of Southeast Asian refugees and Immigrants Families, many who are small farmers living in rural communities. Without these efforts, many in our community would go hungry.”