New Mexico is not yet through the bad times brought on by the recession. In fact, our job growth is the worst in the region, and among the worst in the country. Unfortunately, some in our state government are poised to strike another blow to our still-weak communities. The administration of the State wants to deny food benefits to those who cannot find a job in a market that isn’t producing any. -New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops (NMCCB)
|Food line in Truchas|
Effective in October of this year, the state plans to restore a 20-hour-a-week work requirement for an estimated 26,600 childless adults to get food stamps. The mandate was suspended in 2009 because of the national recession. On-the-job training and community service also can help meet the work mandate. announced plans to limit food benefits to adults on food stamps, including parents of children over six years old. New Mexico would be one of six states to reject available federal benefits that currently bring millions of dollars into New Mexico’s grocers and surrounding communi ties, while alleviating hunger.
Here is the full statement from the NMCCB:
Statement: In Defense of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
August 14, 2014
New Mexican families need access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bishops oppose changes to requirements for families to receive SNAP (food stamps).
Prosperous communities are made up of strong families. Our families are strong when jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage are available, and safe housing and nutritious food are affordable. New Mexico’s communities have been weakened by the recession, which caused many workers to lose their jobs, homes and life savings. Jobs that were lost have not returned and many were replaced with jobs that pay much lower wages.
It is in times like these that communities pull together and we all help each other get through life’s challenges. We do this because it is the moral thing to do and also because we recognize that we are all connected. When we help raise one another up, we are elevating our communities.
|Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces|
Undoubtedly these administrators believe they are acting in the state’s best interests, and in a strong economy their idea might be defensible. However, in one of the worst economies since the Great Depression, it is unconscionable.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as food stamps—is needed to help families. Food stamps are now called SNAP because it does not pay for all the food a person needs, only supplements it. It helps out-of-work parents feed their children, it also helps local grocery markets keep their customers, which helps them keep their employees. In short, it helps keep communities strong.
Pope Francis has called on all of us to do all we can to help the poor. This proposal, to deny food to our families and most of all to our children, is not right. In Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food,” speaks to all New Mexicans. As faith leaders, we ask that the State see that this requirement will turn hungry children away. We need to strengthen our communities, not take food out of the mouths of those who are already suffering by requiring them to find jobs that do not exist. We pray that jobs will be created and that struggling families will earn income. Until the unemployment rate changes we must provide supplemental nutrition for our children.
The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan, S.T.L., J.C.D.
Diocese of Gallup, Most Rev. James S. Wall
Diocese of Las Cruces, Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, S.T.D.