As the deadline for raising the country’s debt limit looms, another deadline is approaching: on November 1, cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will go into effect, and a new report from Boston Medical Center says this will be especially harmful to children.
Pediatrician and founder of Children’s Health Watch, Deborah Frank, said SNAP acts as a vaccine against food insecurity and hunger.
"There is good medical data that say that when children who receive SNAP compared to similar children who don’t, they are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to have academic problem, less likely to be obese and anemic," she said.
Childhood food insecurity is a public health threat with lasting effects not only on a child’s health, but that of the economy, the Boston Medical Center report says.
"Children who are malnourished in early life are much less able as they grow up to compete in a knowledge-based economy, and also sick people have a tough time working," said Frank. "Even brief periods of nutritional deprivation and the toxic stress of being hungry, even if not for weeks and weeks, affects how the brain develops and how it works later on."
SNAP faces more potential cuts in the future. Last month the House approved a bill that would cut $40 billion a year from the food aid program. The Senate version is far less at $4 billion.