Thursday, September 19, 2013

U.S. House Poised to Slash Food Stamp Funding

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 9:58 AM

The U.S. House of Representatives is planning to vote today on a proposal which could slash the food stamp program by nearly $40 billion over 10 years. But House Republicans know that if if the measure passes, President Barack Obama has promised to veto the legislation.

"These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work," the White House said in a statement on the bill.

In August, Boise Weekly examined Idaho's food stamp program, which exploded from approximately 40,000 households in 2007 to nearly 110,000 household in January 2012. Each household represents approximately 2.5 recipients. As of July, 224,477 Idahoans were receiving assistance through the Food Stamp Program, representing 14.2 percent of the population.

In our report, we chronicled that how Idaho requires most adult food stamp recipients to be employed or actively participating in a work training program.

"I think that another big misconception [is] that they're under the impression that people are just sitting at home collecting food stamps," Lori Wolff, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare deputy administrator told Boise Weekly. "The Food Stamp Program is truly a work support program. If you're working 30 hours a week at minimum wage, you're barely paying your rent. You barely have enough for child care while you're working, let alone expenses for medicine or transportation. Food assistance doesn't become a replacement for income. It's a supplement, in [being] able to meet basic minimum needs. Serving the working poor is so important. If you can't buy food, you certainly can't put gas in your car and then you can't get to work the next day."

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate in June passed a five-year farm bill that would have cut about $400 million from food stamps annually, but the cuts were too modest for conservatives in the U.S. House.

The cost of food stamps has more than doubled since 2008, coming to nearly $78 billion last year. In 2007, the percentage of American households that lacked sufficient access to food stood at 11.1 percent, but it increased to 14.6 percent in 2008 as the recession hit. That figure has remained virtually unchanged since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in September, with 14.5 percent of households that were "food insecure" in 2012.

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