Concord Monitor: My Turn: What I’m thankful for – and what I worry about

By GAIL GARCEAU for the Monitor

MOST OF US WILL BE FORTUNATE ENOUGH to gather with family and friends on Thursday to celebrate one of our most treasured holidays. The origin of Thanksgiving was to celebrate the harvest and the blessings of the past year. In reflecting on those blessings, one I tend to take for granted is that, in our family, the question of having enough food to eat is never an issue.

If you are like me, weekly shopping is a bit of a chore, and I’m always a bit stunned by the final total at the register, but we don’t want for anything. We are blessed.

A significant number of families in New Hampshire, however, are not as fortunate as you and me. Nearly 74,000 people participate in the New Hampshire Food Stamp Program. More than 38%, or 28,000, are children. These families are referred to as being “food insecure” meaning that at some point each month they might not know where their next meal is coming from.

While the current hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives are receiving widespread public attention, a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make it more difficult for families to qualify for the Food Stamp Program is also being reviewed and has received almost no news coverage.

The USDA proposes to increase the scope of mandatory work requirements for people to receive benefits, and effectively increase program financial eligibility guidelines.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that the proposed changes to eligibility criteria could mean that 3,500 New Hampshire households would lose benefits. This includes up to 18% of all currently enrolled households with children.

This is a proposed policy change that deserves our attention.

Read more In the Concord Monitor