September is celebrated nationally as Hunger Action Month, but here in North Dakota we are proud to have Gov. Doug Burgum proclaim it as Hunger Free Month. It’s great to see North Dakotans join together in ending hunger, whether it’s donating food or funds, volunteering or raising their voice to make a difference.

As our communities renew their commitment to fighting hunger, we cannot forget the role of federal nutrition programs, namely SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps families keep food on the tables when tough times hit. The program keeps 54,000 North Dakotans — including 23,760 children — from going hungry. Nearly two-thirds of the people who use SNAP are children, seniors or people with disabilities. When families don’t have to worry about food costs, they can stretch their dollars to pay for other basic necessities.

SNAP is facing drastic cuts nationally, up to $150 billion. As the only food bank in North Dakota, we know how much these cuts will hurt. Every day, we see workers who earn too little to feed their families, despite working long hours. We chat with people who have recently lost their jobs because they had to take care of a sick child or parent.

Our staff and volunteers work hard to make a difference. But we can’t do it alone. Food banks and pantries already struggle to keep North Dakotans fed. With any changes or cuts to SNAP, we won’t be able to make up the difference.

Hunger Free Month is a time to speak out about hunger and lend a helping hand. We ask Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer to oppose any federal budget that takes away food from our neighbors. By working together across all divides, we can make every month hunger free.

Melissa Sobolik, Fargo

Melissa Sobolik is director of Ending Hunger at the Great Plains Food Bank.

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