Guest Post: The Real Hunger Games

By Melissa Boteach and Katie Wright

These days it seems like everyone is talking about the latest book-to-movie sensation, The Hunger Games. Set in a dystopian future America, two teenagers are selected from each of the poor 12 districts surrounding a wealthy city known as the Capitol to fight to the death on reality television. One of the highest-grossing movies of 2012, millions have flocked to theaters and bookstores to see the movie and purchase the book.

In The Hunger Games, the wealthy people of the Capitol leverage their power to create a game only they can win. Unfortunately, this is a storyline similar to one that many Americans know all too well. Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games, seemed to recognize that—they partnered with a number of anti-hunger charities as part of the movie’s rollout, though they cracked down on other advocates who were riffing off the franchise’s themes.

And while The Hunger Games may have surrendered its place atop the box office to The Avengers, the fight against hunger remains a real and pressing issue in Washington. Time and time again, conservatives in our nation’s capital choose to preserve the “invisible benefits”— the tax breaks, loopholes, and subsidies that benefit the wealthy—at the expense of programs that create jobs and help low-income families feed their children and boost our economy.

This week the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a package that would cut more than a shocking $33 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Cuts of this magnitude will impact every household seeking nutrition assistance, the overwhelming majority of which have a member who is elderly, disabled, a child, or working poor. Two million people would lose all of their benefits, and 44 million others would see their benefits reduced; 280,000 schoolchildren would lose automatic access to their free school breakfasts and lunches.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has helped millions of Americans such as Tara, a working mother who once went hungry for a whole weekend to feed her son, put food on the table. Without it more than 5 million Americans would have slipped into poverty in 2010.

It’s time to tell conservatives in Congress that we’re done playing these hunger games. We don’t need to cut food assistance for families struggling against hunger in order to finance more tax breaks for millionaires and to bolster our bloated military budget.

If Congress is hoping that you don’t know about these cuts or that you won’t contact their offices to push back, they’re going to be wrong. Help us spread the word about these cuts—share our Hunger Games trailer and weigh in with your members of Congress now.

Nearly 45 million Americans are counting on you. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Melissa Boteach is the Director of the Half in Ten Campaign and Katie Wright is a Research Associate with the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.