Every day thousands of our neighbors, friends, families and coworkers silently suffer from hunger. Instead of allowing us to help them, Congress is proposing cuts to vital programs that help feed families, children and the elderly. We can’t let this happen.

About one in six people are hungry, and half of those are children. Many Maine residents are struggling to put food on the table and lead healthy lifestyles.

Programs are in place that can help solve the hunger and health problems that our hard-working community members face. Two such programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, i.e. “food stamps”) that supplements our fellow hungry Americans’ diet with nutritious food and its corresponding Nutrition Education Program (SNAP-Ed) that empowers families to make long-lasting, healthy food choices on a limited budget.

In Maine, 19 percent of our population participates in the SNAP program, with 64 percent of those participants being families with children and 34 percent being families with elderly or disabled people.

Thanks to SNAP-Ed, Maine residents have developed skills like cooking, grocery shopping and budgeting to keep their families healthy. I work as a nutrition educator through the SNAP-Ed program and have personally seen how people’s lives can change through the educational opportunities this program provides.

As our country continues to face the consequences of poor nutrition habits, SNAP and SNAP-Ed continue to be under fire during the Farm Bill deliberation on Capitol Hill. Cutting important nutrition programs is not the answer. We must keep SNAP and SNAP-Ed programs in our state to ensure our communities stay healthy.

Kristine Kittridge, Winthrop