House Bill Cutting Food Stamp Benefits Expected to Come to a Vote Tomorrow

Categories: Controversy

food_pantry.jpg
Evan DuCharme
A volunteer hands out fresh produce at the S.F. Food Bank.
Last week, while I was blogging about my five days on a $4.50-a-day food stamp budget, I alluded a few times to a bill currently in Congress to cut the SNAP budget by $40 billion. The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, which, if passed, is estimated to deny food stamp access to between 4 and 6 million low-income people in 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

See also: Austerity Measures: A Restaurant Critic's Week on Food Stamps

About 48 million Americans received food stamps last year, including more than 200,000 low-income residents of San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Alameda counties. And as I found during my five days on the S.F. Food Bank's Hunger Challenge, living on that small of a food budget is very, very hard. The New York Times also had a long story earlier this month illustrating the very real challenges that families on food stamps are up against to put food on the table.

The bill was introduced by Republican Representative and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, and is supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Food stamp enrollment has been on the rise since the beginning of the Great Recession, and this bill is framed as a way to save money and overhaul the welfare system. But in an editorial against the bill, the NYT editorial board pointed out that the House plans to increase farm insurance subsidies for farmers.

Democrats are opposing the bill and hoping that some Republican House members will vote against party line. You can make your voice heard before tomorrow by contacting your Representative (there's a search by zip code in the upper right corner of the House.gov site).

If passed, the bill will then need to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama. Either way, benefits will be reduced in November automatically, when a provision in 2009's Stimulus Act expires.

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