With the majority of new jobs in industries that notoriously pay low wages leaving employees forced to take food stamps, now would be the best time to preserve food stamps in America.
Just don’t tell that to House Republicans.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are looking to cut more money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than the Senate recently did. The Senate recently passed a proposal that would reduce federal nutrition assistance by $4 billion over the next 10 years. The House then passed a farm bill without the food assistance provision and is currently trying to get a food assistance bill passed before the farm bill expires at the end of September. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., recently proposed cutting food assistance by $40 billion over the next decade.
The House’s original food stamps cuts would’ve taken close to 2 million Americans off the program; it currently supports close to 47 million. That proposal was part of the farm bill that Democrats eventually withdrew support from when more food stamp cuts were added to the program. Although no official farm bill has gone on the books, either way you slice it, those on food stamps will have less to work with pretty soon.
“Our country’s anti-hunger safety net is under attack, more so than at any time in the Food Bank for New York City’s 30-year history,” said Food Bank for New York City President and CEO Margarette Purvis at a recent news conference in Queens with Rep. Joe Crowley. “Congress’ proposed cuts to SNAP benefits would double our hunger crisis—a devastating proposition in a city where one in three residents already struggles to put food on the table.”
More than half of New York recipients of SNAP are in households with children. Over one-third of New York recipients are elderly or disabled. One of the many targets on the Republicans’ radar includes SNAP recipients who receive assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is how close to half the households affected by this cut live in the five boroughs.
The issue has also drawn the mayor of the five boroughs into the conversation.
Earlier this summer, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined 17 other mayors in writing a letter to Congress advocating for the continuation of SNAP and individual states to test limiting the eligibility of sugary drinks.
“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should be just that–a nutrition resource for those in need. Sugary drinks have zero nutritional value and disproportionately contribute to obesity, actually harming the health of food stamp participants,” said Bloomberg in a statement after learning that the American Medical Association sided with the 18 mayors. “I hope our leaders in Congress and the USDA consider the medical community’s serious health concerns about the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.”
Even without any new vote, the boost in food assistance is set to end on Nov. 1.
Back in 2009, as part of the economic stimulus package, maximum monthly benefits for food stamp recipients in SNAP increased by 13.6 percent. That increase expires in over two months.
Right now, the only thing that matters is whether the country’s poor, temporarily or otherwise, will be able to get proper nourishment while getting back on their feet.