Fighting hunger isn’t easy. 2017 marked the 7th consecutive year of at least 3 million visits to food shelves across Minnesota. We continue to help our neighbors get the good food they need, but new challenges threaten the work we do.
One challenge is the federal tax reform legislation passed by Congress and signed by our President last December. In raising the standard deductions we can claim, fewer of us will itemize our deductions. As a result, those who don’t itemize won’t have the opportunity to deduct charitable donations on their 2018 returns. Industry experts believe this will affect giving, and estimate charitable gifts nationwide may decrease by 4.5%.
The new reforms also force our government to consider budget cuts. One proposed cut affects the people we serve. The House of Representatives is set to vote on a federal budget that cuts $150 billion in funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The effects will be devastating for millions of Americans, including 476,000 Minnesotans who rely on this program to help put food on their tables. If passed, these cuts will put greater pressure on our community to help those who need it most.
I’ve spoken with those who give. Some say the reforms won’t affect their giving. They give because they can. They don’t care about the tax benefits. They care about our community, and know neighbors need our help. Others are acutely aware of the proposed budget cuts, and they’re letting their voices be heard. They’re calling or writing their legislative leaders to let them know how they feel.
Fighting hunger isn’t easy. But fighting hunger is vital to a healthy community. I believe having access to nutritious food is a basic right for all individuals. Together, let’s meet this challenge in the coming year. Our community and neighbors are relying on us.