Food Insecurity in Columbia County is Real and Likely to Grow in the Months Ahead

by Stephanie Sussman, Claverack

(published on Imby at: on March 13, 2023)

At the March 6 CD19 Town Hall in Claverack, Congressman Marc Molinaro was asked whether he supported the end of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments on March 1, reducing benefits by hundreds of dollars for some individuals and families, causing harm to his constituents already struggling with food insecurity at a time when food prices have increased 10 percent in the last year.

In Columbia County, over 11.5 percent of the population is food insecure. Individuals with disabilities, seniors and low-income working families struggle to put food on the table. Two thirds of SNAP recipients are families with children. Even while receiving pandemic related Emergency Allotments, recipients had to rely on food pantries, community refrigerators, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army kitchen and the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen, to have enough to eat.

In his opening remarks to the audience, Congressman Molinaro told the audience that while growing up his family received food stamps, the common term for SNAP benefits, and that as a member of the Congressional Agriculture Committee he would be working to pass the 2023 Farm Bill in September, to protect and conserve farmland to ensure food security in our country. The Farm Bill also includes food stamp policies that provide benefits for 40 million Americans struggling with food insecurity.

Congressman Molinaro fashions himself a moderate Republican and a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The Congressman defended ending emergency allotments stating that when the emergency is over, at some point it is time to move forward from executive order to policy. But is it over when the inflationary costs have raised food prices, rents, and as the Congressman recognized, the lack of transportation and long drives to get to and from work in rural areas compounds the situation.  The Republican Party has already targeted cuts to the food stamp program in their budget cutting proposals.

Decreasing food stamps benefits will exacerbate the ongoing financial issues for families already struggling to meet their needs. When pressed about what will happen in the meantime, Congressman Molinaro said “we will have to navigate a way to support the most vulnerable with the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.” Politicians may be able to wait 6 months for a vote to pass the 2023 Farm Bill in September, but families in crisis in Columbia County and across the country need real solutions now.