Families that rely on food stamps fear House-approved cuts

A woman struggling to support her grandchild, a man trying to feed his five-year-old daughter; both came to the Central Pennsylvania Public Assistance office looking for the same thing.

“It gives me enough that I am able to eat month-to-month,” Carole Mason said.

Mason and her high school-age grandson depend solely on disability and Social Security.

“I come in to apply for food stamps for me and for her,” Steve Perry said, pointing to his daughter.

Perry and Mason are just two of over 47 million Americans, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

That is more than the entire population of Canada.

Pennsylvania accounts for 1.8 million.

“Here in central Pennsylvania, we are about 25 percent of the population so you have close to half-a-million people who are relying on SNAP benefits,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps for the next 10 years. Arthur said that the $40 billion in cuts are approved, food banks would run dry.

“In fact, each $4 billion is about the same amount of food distribution that the whole charitable food network does nationwide in a whole year,” he said.

Alternatively, supporters say that the massive savings would come from simply trimming the fat and cutting out abuse.

Drug testing would be one new requirement, and both of the people we spoke with supported that idea fully.

“I have no problem giving a drug test for assistance,” said Perry, “Hey, I am 31-years-old and I need help, I mean, when it comes to my child I can be a man and take it and do what I've got to do.”

Perry and Mason would most likely remain eligible for benefits in the unlikely event the House bill moves through the Senate.

“Right now, I have pennies in the bank and believe me, month-to-month I don't have anything left in that account,” Mason said. “That's how bad it is for me.”

 

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