Showing posts with label Food Stamps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food Stamps. Show all posts

July 23, 2019

Trump Wants to Cost Food Stamps by 12% or $2.5 Billion on People Already Proven are Beyond Poor

Does he want the money for the wall or just more traveling by his government supported family?

                   Image result for trump hates the poor


Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

But the agency wants to require people who receive TANF benefits to pass a review of their income and assets to determine whether they are eligible for free food from SNAP, officials said.

If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5 billion a year by removing people from SNAP, according to the USDA.

U.S. President Donald Trump has argued that many Americans now using SNAP do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment, and should be removed as a way to save taxpayers as much as $15 billion.

“Some states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow people to receive the SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify and for which they are not entitled,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters on a conference call on Monday. 

SNAP provides free food to some 40 million Americans or about 12% of the total U.S. population.

A Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill was blocked by Congress last year, following a months-long, partisan debate.

The USDA does not need congressional approval, however, to stop states from automatically allowing recipients of TANF benefits to become eligible for SNAP, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA acting deputy undersecretary.

Current rules allow people to access SNAP benefits worth thousands of dollars for two years without going through robust eligibility reviews, he told reporters on the call.

“Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF-funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP when they clearly don’t need it,” Lipps said.

The USDA will accept public comment on the proposed rule change. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in December estimated the rule could save the federal government $8.1 billion from 2019 to 2028, lower than the USDA’s estimate.

In 2016, the CBO said arguments against the change included concerns that it would eliminate benefits for households in difficult financial situations and increase the complexity and time involved in verifying information on SNAP applications.

Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Peter Cooney
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

June 9, 2018

A Large Part of Senior LGBT's Are On Food Stamps If Trump Bill Passes They Will Go Hungry

Editor’s note: What will the future hold for LGBTQ rights and representation? With this year’s Beyond Pride series, Mic looks forward to see how the radical changes in recent years will continue to transform our culture in the worlds of politics, business, entertainment and more. You can receive all these stories in your inbox by signing up here.
LGBT people are disproportionately food insecure — meaning a larger percentage of this group doesn’t have enough money to feed their family or themselves, relative to the general population. Research from a 2016 report by the Williams Institute found that 27% of LGBT adults — or 2.2 million people — went through a period of food insecurity that year, while a much smaller 17% of non-LGBT adults experienced the same. 
The report also revealed that more than one in four LGB adults participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is still colloquially known as “food stamps.” The program is often misrepresented as giving handouts to freeloaders, and it’s one that President Donald Trump has alluded to as being rife with fraud and laziness. In the Trump administration’s 2018 Farm Bill proposal, which has yet to successfully pass, LGBT people are even further disadvantaged. 

How Trump’s farm bill hurts LGBT people

In regards to SNAP, the new bill would require tighter work requirements for those who receive assistance from the program. More specifically, “it would institute a policy that would require able-bodied adults under the age of 60 without young children to prove monthly that they are working or participating in a work program for 20 total hours each week in order to qualify for assistance, with a month’s buffer between losing a job and sanctions,” the Atlantic reported. 
“People at odds are going to do what they need to do to feed themselves — eating is a part of survival.” — Tyrone Hanley, NCLR 
Expanding work requirements under SNAP doesn’t adequately help people seek jobs, nor does it address the systemic reasons why LGBTQ people have trouble getting work in the first place, Tyrone Hanley, policy counsel at the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a phone interview. “Employment discrimination is a significant factor that directly contributes to LGBTQ poverty and unemployment rates,” a group of 56 queer and allied organizations, including NCLR, wrote in a letter to Congress opposing the Farm Bill. “Over half of the U.S. population lives in a state without explicit nondiscrimination laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” 
Supporters listen as Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., holds a news conference with faith leaders to “urge lawmakers to reject proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the Farm Bill” on Monday, May 7.
Supporters listen as Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., holds a news conference with faith leaders to “urge lawmakers to reject proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the Farm Bill” on Monday, May 7.  Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
These work requirements would increase the likelihood that more LGBT people will be food insecure, Hanley said. Even more, “there’s no question that by limiting the number of people that can access food assistance, more people are going to seek money through the underground economy,” Hanley said, explaining that criminalized work in either the drug trade and the sex trade is more likely to be sought out.  
“People at odds are going to do what they need to do to feed themselves — eating is a part of survival,” he continued. In interviews conducted in New York City with LGBTQ youth, the Urban Institute found that “almost all of those who engaged in survival sex did so in order to make ends meet,” according to a report published by the Social Justice Sexuality Project.  
“SNAP, for a lot of people, is the difference between literally starving and not starving,” Meghan Maury, policy director at The National LGBTQ Task Force, said over the phone. “Putting work requirements [onto SNAP] is shameful to me. I can’t say it another way — I know what it’s like to be hungry. Everyone should have access to the food they need to function.” 
LGBT people are, of course, not the only ones who will be hurt by the proposed bill. Virtually any marginalized group that is disproportionately affected by poverty will be put at a greater disadvantage with the work requirements. LGBT poverty and hunger issues are not often discussed in mainstream media, however, because of “positive stereotypes” that lead people to assume LGBT communities are well off, despite the data that shows otherwise, Hanley said.  “Media portrayals like ‘Will and Grace’ lead the public to believe that all gay people are white, wealthy and doing just fine.” — Meghan Maury 
In reality, LGBT people, particularly women and people of color, face poverty at significantly higher degrees than their non-LGBT counterparts. “I think there’s a myth of gay affluence which still persists,” Maury said. “Media portrayals like Will and Grace lead the public to believe that all gay people are white, wealthy and doing just fine, and what we’re fighting for is cake at our wedding and not basic human rights and human dignity.”
Kate Bratskeir

April 1, 2014

One Billion Increase in Nukes While Education and Food Stamps are Cuts


Move the Money from War to Education by Johnny Keane
We live in strange times, indeed. In the past few months, the U.S. Congress has failed to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people and has passed legislation that will cut $8.6 billion in food stamps over the next 10 years, affecting 850,000 households in 1/3 of the states.

   At the same time, the 2015 budget shows a 7% increase in spending on nuclear weapons, from $18.6 billion to $19.4 billion -- almost $1 billion. While the overall amount allocated for nuclear weapons is greater than last year, the funds dedicated to nuclear nonproliferation programs — programs to reduce the numbers of available warheads or securing so-called "loose nukes" was cut, making more dollars available to either build new nuclear weapons hardware or spend billions to modernize old ones, such as the B-61 bomb.

If this budget is accepted it will show once again that our nation's priorities favor increased spending on weapons of mass destruction at the expense of programs that help people survive tough times and keep food on their tables. At a time when our economy continues to struggle and the gap between rich and poor widens, how is it that our elected officials opt to spend more money on nuclear weapons? It is the wrong time to promote additional spending on nuclear weapons when diplomacy is easing tensions between the international community and Iran, a country which once again has assured the world that it is not planning to build nuclear weapons or when another diplomatic agreement obliged Syria to destroy its chemical weapons. 

After spending $4 -- 6 trillion on war since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the American public is war-weary and war-wise. The tremendous outpouring of opposition to a proposed military strike against Syria or war against Iran is due, in part, to an increasing number of Americans understanding the connection between these huge outlays of cash for war and a treasury drained of funds to help local communities.

 Winslow Wheeler's March 13th article titled " America's $1 Trillion National Security Budget" published by the Straus Military Reform's Project on Government Oversight, explains how the Pentagon's criticism of a proposed $495.6 billion military budget for 2015 as "austere and dangerously inadequate" is misleading. According to Wheeler, "Scarcity of money is not their problem. Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion." Included in Wheeler's analysis are:
a maximum of $79.4 billion to continue the war in Afghanistan,
$6.2 billion in "mandatory" spending for military retirement and other DOD-only programs;
the Pentagon's $26 billion dollar portion of the "Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative" characterized by some as a slush fund,  
$37.8 billion in additional money paid by the Treasury for military retirement and DOD healthcare,
$19.4 billion in nuclear weapons' costs borne by the Department of Energy,
$52.1 billion in non-DOD spending in the Department of Homeland Security,
 $161.2 billion for the human consequences of past and ongoing wars in the Department of Veterans Affairs,
 $39 billion for the activities of the Department of State and related agencies-for international security and the exercise of US power abroad; and
an equitable share of the interest on the national debt that is related to this spending.

These costs added together total $1.0095 trillion for 2015!
     Here are two ways to reduce this. Two nearly identical bills in the U.S. Congress today target nuclear weapons spending to save money. Senator Markey, D-Mass, introduced the "Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE)" Act and Rep. Blumenauer, D-Ore, introduced the "Reduce Expenditures in Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN)" Act. According toEric Tamerlani's article "Reining in Nuke Spending the Smart Way" in the March 12th Roll Call, these bills will save taxpayers $100 billion on nuclear weapons over 10 years. The bills would reduce the number of new nuclear submarines, cap tactical nuke modernization and scrap the F-35’s nuclear mission. 

     In late April, pro-disarmament activists from around the world will gather at the United Nations to prepare nuclear disarmament proposals to present at the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Sharon Dolev, Director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, will participate.  She will also speak on "Cooling the Hot Spot: A Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East" at NJPA's April 27th Annual Dinner at the Regency House in Pompton Plains. Her talk will address what a nuclear weapons free Middle East means for Israel, the region, and the world, as well as obstacles within Israel to attaining that important goal. For more information and to make reservations, visit

Cooling off tensions in the Middle East and preventing another war will release funds for programs that address community needs. This is not only timely, but essential, for genuine security in our nation and the world.

February 18, 2014

Norquist Style Austerity Slams HIV Patients and Takes the Food Out of the mouth of the Poor

Grover Norquist (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
When austerity proponents like Grover Norquist push for more and more cuts, there are real-world effects on some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Following recent sequester cuts, 85 percent of AIDS organizations saw their budgets reduced even as 79 percent saw their clients increase, according to a fall survey from the AIDS Institute. Last month, Congress increased Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding to $70 million above sequestration levels — still $24 million below the Fiscal Year 2013 rate.
To consider how cuts – to AIDS programs, to food stamps and to unemployment — are impacting people with HIV, Salon called up Janet Weinberg, interim CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the three-decade-old prevention, care and advocacy group.
“We’re creating a cycle where people are set up to not succeed on medication,” said Weinberg. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

 How is the sequester impacting Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ ability to do your work?
“Unfortunate” would be putting it mildly… The impact really hit very, very hard in social service agencies like GMHC…
We lost, as was described, 10 percent of our federal funds… You’re talking a million plus dollars. A million dollars buys an awful lot of service, and buys an awful lot of food, and buys an awful lot of security where people who are struggling with HIV won’t have it…
That [hit] every single one of our federal programs. So that meant [post-exposure prophylaxis] programs, that meant counseling programs, that meant programs for people who are HIV-positive, that meant working with youth between the ages of 14 and upward to 29…
On top of the sequester last year, because that was enough insult to injury, we also had something called Hold Harmless… a clause in the Ryan White [Act] to protect and make sure that cities like New York, which are the hardest hit with HIV, were protected, to ensure that they got what they needed out of Ryan White. And the [Health Resources and Services Administration] stated that they made a mathematical error and… $18 million of New York State Ryan White dollars had to be repaid. And what that meant was five months into a contract, we were told that contracts were being cut.
Now we’re talking about literally taking food out of people’s mouths…
These clients who are HIV-positive don’t get food? Guess what: they can’t take their medication. We’re sabotaging ourselves with this kind of thing.
 Ryan White also covered some legal services. These are clients that face eviction.
Putting somebody out on the street is helpful? Who’s HIV-positive?
…The kinds of services that GMHC is providing are critical life services that are fundamental… and that’s what was cut…
In 2012, the federal government appropriated $3.5 billion to HIV. With sequestration, $3.5 billion was cut to $3.2 billion… Pretty radical.
For people who are served by GMHC, how do those cuts interact with the cuts we’ve seen to food stamps and to unemployment benefits?
We are seeing clients who are hearing about these SNAP cuts and coming in, saying to us they do not know how they are possibly going to survive with less food than they have…
With the interaction of HIV meds, we really need to be watching nutrition, to make sure that these folks are getting the food they need to metabolize the medication. So these SNAP cuts may really truly affect these clients from being able to take meds. That’s pretty drastic. That’s very serious…
In terms of the unemployment pieces, we’re desperately trying to help people get back to work… [But] somebody with HIV can’t afford to have a job that doesn’t really give them security. Otherwise they really need to stay on benefits. So again, we’re defeating ourselves by not giving people enough of a safety net…
A person who has HIV has got to plan for how they are going to stay on their medication without any breaks whatsoever, which means you can’t have a gap in your healthcare coverage. You must have coverage for your medication. You can’t afford a risk of losing housing.
You really can’t couch-surf and stay healthy with HIV, because you’ve got to take medication, you need a routine, and part of that is having a steady roof over your head. With HIV, you need proper nutrition. So if you were to have a job, and the job is unstable, and suddenly you find yourself out of work and unable to find work… It’s not so easy to just jump back on Social Security Disability. First of all, if you’ve worked, you’re showing that you’re capable of working. And now you’re caught in real Catch-22…
We’re creating a cycle where people are set up to not succeed on medication.
If someone doesn’t have sufficient food, what happens to their medication?
There are certain meds that really have to be taken with food… It’s not just any food – it’s specific foods that you need…
These meds are very hard on the digestive system, and so it’s nutrition that allows metabolism of these meds. Without nutrition, you’re not triggering your whole metabolic system to digest and to ingest the meds properly so that you get the best effect from them.
Who do you blame for this new set of challenges?
Congress. I really, really blame the House…
At the [2010] International AIDS Conference, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came and spoke, and for the first time used the language that we could have a next generation that was AIDS-free. So you can see, the framework is being put in place, but the funding is not…
In the country, only about 25 percent of all people who have HIV and AIDS are what’s called virally suppressed, which means that they’re getting their medication at an optimal level… So then you scratch your head and say: in the United States, why [are] 75 percent not able to obtain that goal? So GMHC has been wrestling with that.
We started a program with Mount Sinai hospital two years ago, where every single person who tests positive in our testing center is basically… triaged into an emergency room kind of situation…When asked if they would like us to make them an appointment immediately, and walk them over to a doctor today, we have had basically 100 percent compliance – people want to go to the doctor if they find out they’re HIV-positive. But they need help getting there… We start giving them wraparound services, finding out who they are, how they might have gotten infected, what we can do to work with them, and help them get healthy, get stable again.
In that program, over the last two years that we’ve been running it, we have a 90 percent suppression rate, compared to the country’s 25 percent suppression rate.
I think we can resolve this HIV issue… [The issue is] the political will.
Is there a tension between a focus on research into preventing HIV and a focus on treatment? Are those in competition?
Yup. And the pendulum swings back and forth…
The early years of HIV, the only thing we had was prevention. Then we got antiretroviral therapy, and all the focus went to treatment. And [now] prevention among people who are HIV-positive has become the talk of the town – it’s called test-and-treat. So as soon as you test, you get on medication.
What we are neglecting is that there are actually [more] tools for prevention now, besides condoms and besides latex, there’s now pre-exposure prophylaxis, which gets a fair amount of attention. But [for] all that attention, there’s only 1,600 people in the U.S. on pre-exposure prophylaxis. We can do better.
The other is that we have post-exposure prophylaxis, so in the event that somebody is subjected to HIV for whatever reason… you’ve got a 72-hour window to get on post-exposure prophylaxis and decrease their rate of actually getting HIV by about 96 percent…
We have tools that aren’t being used. We’re not doing good enough with preventing people from getting HIV… The medications are expensive. I could keep them negative for a whole lot less money.
The relationship, in politics and in media and culture in the U.S., between HIV and the LGBT movement — has that shifted, and to what extent has that been good or bad in terms of efforts to address HIV?
The community seems to put all their eggs in one basket. So in the ’80s it was all about HIV and nothing else. And now, in the second decade of the 21st century, we seem to put all of our eggs into the marriage basket. And nothing wrong with that — we consider that to be an HIV intervention. But HIV really is not on even… the Top Five agenda for LGBT folks.
Yet when we look at the numbers… The top numbers for new infection, and the only area that new infection is occurring more rapidly than anywhere else, is young black or people of color MSM [men who have sex with men]… LGBT should be incorporating it…
The only other thing I would press on this is… if you look at how much money is going into HIV today, with inflation, it equals the same amount of money as 1991. And yet we have so many more tools, and so much more we can do with HIV. This is not the time to be not addressing inflation, and not addressing cost of living with an HIV budget.
GMHC and other organizations are truly ready to end the AIDS epidemic. We can get below epidemic levels. We have the tools, we have the knowledge, we have the skills. We don’t have the money.
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Josh Eidelson

December 1, 2013

What is wrong with this Pic? In NYC Food Pantries Are Bursting

NYC 2013 Hunger Aurvey
NYC 2013 Hunger Aurvey

After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Jackie Williams says she had a stark choice to make.

"I had to choose between working and getting treatment," said Williams, 49, who worked in the entertainment industry and just underwent a mastectomy.
On. Nov. 1, the benefits she receives from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, were cut as part of a $5 billion reduction to the program, dealing Williams another cruel blow. To make up the difference, she gets food from the New York Common Pantry on East 109th Street in East Harlem.
"I don't know how I was getting by with the little I received before the cut," Williams said Tuesday outside the pantry where she picked up a turkey and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. "This means a lot to me."
The pantry is seeing thousands more people like Williams who, thanks to benefit cuts, the economic downturn and lingering difficulties from Hurricane Sandy, are stretching the city's food pantries to the limit despite an improving economy, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Up to 1.4 million New Yorkers lived in households without enough food in 2012, including one in five of the city's children. One in eight residents suffered food insecurity (the possibility of running out of food) from 2010 to 2012 a 40 percent increase from 2000 to 2002. In the Bronx, about 49 percent of children lived in food insecure households from 2010 to 2012, an increase of 44 percent from 2006 to 2008.
And the city's pantries, a last resort food resource for millions of New Yorkers, face an increased demand of 10 percent this year, on top of increases of 5 to 29 percent from 2010 to 2012, according to the survey.
As the SNAP program and other federal benefits are cut, many of these saw an almost 57 percent drop in government and private funding in 2013. About 45 percent of the pantries said they did not have the means to meet the demand they were facing and almost 46 percent had to turn people away or reduce the amount of food distributed.
"The good news is there are public policy answers," said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Restoring cuts to the SNAP program, increasing the minimum wage and universal pre-K are all things that would help limit the amount of people experiencing hunger, he said.
"We can do better. We must rise together," said Berg.
Stephen Grimaldi, executive director of the New York Common Pantry, said his organization was serving 1.4 million meals when he took the helm five years ago. For this fiscal year, he expects to serve at least 3 million meals.
This November saw a 27 percent increase in the number of people served by New York Common Pantry versus November 2012, meaning the effects of the SNAP cuts have been immediate. The cuts mean an average of 21 less meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $4.5 million in grants Monday to help 2,600 emergency food providers throughout the state.
Rose Brito, 47, of East Harlem, who is disabled, said going to food pantries is her only option at this point. It was already hard to feed her two daughters when $40 was cut from her SNAP benefits.
"I go to three or four different pantries," said Brito as she picked up a Thanksgiving meal. "I don't want to be out here but for my kids i do what I have to do."
Christopher Wallace, 51, of Chelsea, said the $11 cut to his $200 per month SNAP benefits has hurt efforts to keep his grandson and wife fed.
"The food used to last the whole month. Now, it's more like 24 days of food," said Wallace. "We are the richest city in the world. We shouldn’t have hungry people."

 Jeff Mays

November 3, 2013

Congress Got together In a bipartisan Crime to Cut Over 47 Million People Out of Food Stamps

Food stamps cut
Jennifer Donald, whose family receives money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as food stamps, takes a box of taco seasoning from her daughter Jayla, 10, in Philadelphia. Families already buffeted by difficult economic times saw their food stamps benefits drop Friday. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press / October 8, 2013)

 This cut on food stamp was a bi-partisan crime from Congress. They could not get together on the budget but cutting a life line for the poor and unemployed, that they could do. Now another lifeline usually used in conjunction with food stamps is the food banks and community pantries. Now there would be less for all. 
People that don’t qualify for food stamps sometimes can make their end kinda meet with food banks. Now there would be less or none for them and the new influx of people coming in because they have been thrown to the wolf’s. 
Does the average american cares wether their neighbors or the people downtown have enough food? Apparently not because when the news broke out about the food stamps cut there were no quantified amount of people resisting the cuts. Not even the supermarkets and bodegas, grocery stores which will have less customers as a result. When you make a cut like this it tends to hurt everyone.  The people that use the service and the people employed making the service available. Even the economy.
Marisol Bello at usatoday wrote the following observations:
Food banks across the country, stretched thin in the aftermath of the recession, are bracing for more people coming through their doors in the wake of cuts to the federal food stamp program.
Food stamp benefits to 47 million Americans were cut starting Friday as a temporary boost to the federal program comes to an end without new funding from a deadlocked Congress.
Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36.
"It may not sound like a lot but to a person like me, it is," says Annie Crisp, 30, a single mother of two girls in Lancaster, Ohio. "It's not just a number."
She says she received a little less than $550 a month in food stamps and now will receive $497. Crisp, a babysitter who brings home about $830 a month, says the food stamps help her buy her family fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
Crisp worries now that she may end up trying to supplement her family's groceries by going to a food bank or cutting into her electric or gas money for the month. The cut, she says, also means she will have to buy more canned fruits and vegetables, forgoing her daughters' favorite fruit, kiwi, and buying packaged meat.
Food banks served 37 million Americans in 2010, up from 25 million in 2006, according to the most recent numbers from Feeding America, an umbrella organization for 200 food banks nationwide.
"Our network is already overburdened with a a tremendous increase in need," says Maura Daly, a Feeding America spokeswoman.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, says the cuts will hurt more than 1.8 million Ohioans. "This is taking food off the plate and out of the mouths of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors," she says.
She says seniors, children, people with disabilities and veterans will be among the groups hardest hit by the cuts because they are the groups most reliant on food stamps.
The saving grace, she says, is that the holiday season is approaching in November and December, the time of year when most food banks receive more than half of their donations during the year. The flip side is that more people turn to food banks for help during that time.
Michael Flood, CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, says the full impact is still too soon to tell, but he says the cuts are immediate, which means that the 656 agencies that run pantries and soup kitchens in his county may start to see more people in the next few weeks. The problem, he says, is that food banks will not have sufficient food to meet a great demand.
He says agencies will do one of two things when their food supply runs low: They will serve a set number of people and cut off the line when they run out of food baskets or they will put less food in the baskets so they can make more of them.
Diana Stanley, CEO of the Lord's Place, which runs job and housing programs for the homeless in West Palm Beach, Fla., says the clients her agency work with do not have any discretionary income. Even the smallest cuts can cause major upheaval in their lives, she says.
"The food stamps help as our families move into independence," she says. "So these cuts are scary for us." She says more than 80% of the 250 people a day the agency works with receive food stamps.
SNAP, which benefits one in seven Americans, is administered by the Department of Agriculture and is authorized in a five-year omnibus farm bill covering all agricultural programs. Congress is currently debating the bill, which has additional cuts to the program totaling up to $40 billion. A cut that size, say advocates, such as Hamler-Fugitt and Flood, would be devastating.
Adam Gonzalez

October 30, 2013

Food Stamps To Be Cut This Week $5 Billion

The U.S. food-stamp program is set to shrink in the months ahead. The only real question is by how much.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) currently costs about $80 billion per year and provides food aid to 14 percent of all U.S. households — some 47 million people. Those numbers swelled dramatically during the recession.
A farmers market in Roseville, Calif. advertises its acceptance of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards, which are used for food stamps. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)
A farmers market in Roseville, Calif. advertises its acceptance of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards, which are used for food stamps. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)
But the food-stamp program is now set to downsize in the weeks ahead. There's a big automatic cut scheduled for Nov. 1, as a temporary boost from the 2009 stimulus bill expires. That change will trim about $5 billion from federal food-stamp spending over the coming year.
And that's not all: The number of Americans on food stamps could drop even further in the months ahead, as Congress and various states contemplate further changes to the program. Here's a rundown:
1) The end of the stimulus boost. First up is a big automatic cut to SNAP scheduled for Nov. 1. This is happening because the food-stamp program was temporarily expanded in 2009 as part of the Recovery Act. That bill spent $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit levels to around $133, on average.
That bump will end on Friday, and benefits will shrink by around 5 percent on average. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a short report calculating what this will mean for individual households:
So, for instance: The maximum monthly benefit for a family of four will drop from $668 per month down to $632. The maximum monthly benefit for an individual will drop from $200 per month to $189. ("The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s 'Thrifty Food Plan,' notes CBPP)
Those snips add up: The end of the stimulus program will reduce federal food-stamp spending by $5 billion in 2014. Every state will be affected: California, for instance, will see a $457 million drop in spending over the upcoming year, while Texas will lose $411 million as a result.
2) Congress could cut food stamps even further. The stimulus lapse isn't the only cut on the horizon. This week, the House and Senate will resume their haggling over a five-year farm bill. The main point of contention, as before, is over how much to pare back the food-stamp program.
The Senate approved a farm bill that would make only minor changes to the food-stamp program, saving $4.5 billion over 10 years (compared with current law).
House Republicans, meanwhile, went even further, voting on a bill that would cut $39 billion from the program over 10 years, largely by tightening restrictions on who could qualify for food stamps:
The House bill would remove 3.8 million people from the food-stamp rolls over the upcoming year by making two big changes:
-- First, it would reinstate limits on benefits for able-bodied, childless adults aged 18 to 50. These recipients would only be able to collect limited benefits — up to three months over a three-year period — unless they worked more than 20 hours per week or enrolled in job-training programs. (States are currently able to waive these latter requirements when unemployment is high.)
Conservatives have argued that reinstating the work requirements will encourage adults to find jobs more quickly. Liberal critics have countered that employment opportunities are still scarce in many parts of the country — many Americans will simply lose their food aid without finding work. This change would remove an estimated 1.7 million people from the food-stamp rolls.
-- The second big change is that the House bill would restrict states' abilities to determine a person's eligibility for food stamps based in part on whether they qualify for other low-income benefits. This is known as "categorical eligibility" and has generally allowed families just above the poverty line to receive food stamps if they have unusually high housing costs or are facing other hardships.
This second change would take another 2.1 million people off food stamps in 2014 and then remove an additional 1.8 million people per year for the next decade.
It's unclear how many of these cuts will actually get passed into law, however, since the House and Senate still have to figure out how to reconcile their two bills.
3) New state restrictions. Even if Congress doesn't pass further cuts to the program, some states could act on their own to restrict eligibility.
In 2013, 44 states qualified for federal waivers that would allow more able-bodied adults to receive food stamps if unemployment in the area was particularly high. House Republicans want to curtail those waivers as part of their farm bill. But even if the House GOP doesn't get its way, some states are planning to stop asking for waivers anyway.
Kansas already let its waiver expire at the start of October, a change that could affectsome 20,000 residents. The Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill to add a similar work requirement to its food-stamp program. Ohio is planning to enact similar restrictions starting Jan. 1, and Wisconsin will follow suit next July.
So even if the cuts in the House bill fail, many states could act on their own to shrink the number of food-stamp recipients.
Further reading: 
-- Why are 47 million Americans on food stamps? It’s the recession — mostly. Note that the Congressional Budget Office expects the number of food-stamp recipients to decline by 14 million in the next 10 years as the economy improves. That's without any further policy changes.
-- Here's some research showing that food stamps are effective at stabilizing the economy during a downturn. And here's a paper finding that children's access to food stamps can bolster their health and economic prospects as adults:
-- For those wondering about abuse or fraud in the program, here's a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report (pdf) on "trafficking" in the food-stamp program. Between 2009 and 2011, about $858 million worth of food stamps, or just 1.3 percent of all benefits, were traded at a discount for cash.
-- Here's an in-depth narrative look by Eli Saslow at the town of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where one-third of the population is on food stamps.
Brad Plumer
Brad Plumer covers energy and environmental issues, which ends up including just about everything from climate change to agriculture to urban policy and transportation. Follow him on Twitter at @bradplumer. Email him here.

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