Now that the 2016 presidential election is over it’s understandable that, a large percentage of the American population will need time to come to terms and hopefully accept the outcome. For many, it might take weeks or months to heal from the onslaught of vitriol that defined the presidential election, and there are still many others who may take longer to recover from one of the darkest periods in our American political system. Many not-for-profit human service organizations might be part of those currently trying to recover, but as we often tell the people we serve, we need to try to move forward to a better place.
There’s a great deal of uncertainty about the Trump administration and its policies relative to the broad range of social problems that America needs to address. Nearly 47 million Americans utilize our nation’s emergency food assistance programs, including regional food banks like Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Although I don’t expect President Trump to turn his back on the issue of hunger and food insecurity, it needs to be seen what policies and programs his administration will support and which ones might be targeted for funding reductions. We do know that President-Elect Trump campaigned on a promise to reduce taxes for the working class, create millions of new jobs, increase spending for defense, and improve our infrastructure. All of these bold initiatives will cost money and the uncertainty is where the funds will come from. We all know that if you increase spending in one area you have to decrease spending in another area.
What we do know is that President-Elect Trump is a supporter of a faith-based focus towards those in need as illustrated in his position of September 28, 2016 in which he said;
“A Trump administration will always protect the conscience rights of faith-motivated helpers, healers and laborers in the many vineyards where the American flag stands as a beacon of help and hope. Those motivated by their faith to help the less fortunate should never be discriminated against in any government program on the basis of their moral and religious beliefs. That will never happen in a Trump administration.”
In relation to the issue of hunger, we will know more about how the administration will respond based upon who will be appointed the new Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Health and Human Services. The USDA provides funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Summer Food Service Program for Children, all programs that impact food banks across the country. Any reductions in funding will have a significant impact upon people struggling with food insecurity. Clearly, the initial policy focus of HHS will be on revisions to The Affordable Health Care Act to insure that 20 million Americans don’t lose their health insurance.
President-Elect Trump spoke a great deal about turning around our cities during the campaign by creating new jobs and lifting people out of poverty. However, the problems he identified are also present in suburban areas, like Long Island, where more than 300,000 people are experiencing food insecurity. The Trump Administration must develop a bold and realistic plan to lift people out of poverty and hunger which should include creating new and diverse jobs, improving educational opportunities, increasing the federal minimum wage, and maintaining the national safety net of entitlement programs for those in need. The President’s agenda must be inclusive of all Americans.
This article initially appeared in the HIA-LI Reporter, December, 2016