In America, who should go hungry? Your homebound elderly neighbor who has no local family? Your coworker’s son recently home from multiple tours in Afghanistan? The young mother at your church who can’t make ends meet despite having a minimum wage job? What about her two children — should they go hungry this holiday season?

Because of recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), 48 million Americans — including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children and working poor parents ­— now have less money to spend on food every month. And there is a very real threat of billions more in heartless, unnecessary cuts if some in Congress get their way. This would be devastating.

When Members of Congress and others cut programs for low-income people in this country, they need to face up to the question of exactly who they think should go hungry.

"Federal programs like school lunches provide about 20 times more to the nation’s hungry than all charitable food efforts combined, and they must be strengthened, not cut."

Speak up for change

During the holidays, many generous Americans focus on responding to hunger. They donate to food drives and are wonderfully generous. But we must do more to move the nation closer to the eminently achievable goal of ending hunger. SNAP and other federal programs like school lunches provide about 20 times more to the nation’s hungry than all charitable food efforts combined, and they must be strengthened, not cut.

Even small SNAP reductions make a huge and horrible difference for our struggling and hungry neighbors. Since the recent cuts, the average SNAP benefit is less than $1.40 per person per meal.

What you can do

So, what is the solution? It’s making sure decision-makers know we will not tolerate hunger.

First, Americans must tell our leaders — national, state, city, business and community — that hunger is unacceptable. Second, we should advocate for needed change that will help America’s poor rise out of hunger and poverty — less unemployment, higher wages, job training and better income supports like unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits and child-care subsidies.

And we have to make the nation’s nutrition programs — the ultimate anti-hunger safety nets — strong enough to do their job. You can start by contacting your members of Congress and President Obama through WhoGoesHungry.org. Tell them the recent SNAP cuts mean tighter food budgets and hungrier people. Then, in answer to the question, “Who should go hungry this holiday season?” tell them “no one.”