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Entries in SNAP (2)

Thursday
Oct272011

Congressman, Family Live on Food Stamp Budget for a Week

Courtney [dot] House [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Calling proposals to cut food stamp funding “tearing the safety net to shreds,” Rep. Joe Courtney decided one week ago that it wasn’t enough just to disagree.

For the past week and concluding on Wednesday, Courtney, D-Conn., along with his wife Audrey and 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth, have been living on a food stamp budget, experiencing what little can actually be bought for $32.59 per person, per week -- or $1.59 per meal -- and blogging and tweeting about the process.

The week is called taking the “SNAP Challenge” after the national food stamp program run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- that provides low-income households with healthful foods within reach out of their budgets.

Citing proposals submitted to a congressional debt-reduction supercommittee to decrease funding for SNAP, as well as outspoken Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., budget plan and the cuts it would bring, Courtney said, “People [have got] to remember we’re going through an economy with 9 percent unemployment. … When that happens, really by and large, the only public assistance that is left is SNAP.”

Courtney added that “the reality of people depending on SNAP is obvious in the near future, and going backwards is going to be … a real strain on the safety net.”

ABC News spoke to the Congressman while he was on his third cup of tea Wednesday morning with the same tea bag.

Saying that the week has been “harder” than he had imagined,  he added, “You definitely learn some of these tricks to stretch your $4-a-day allotment.”

In addition to shopping at different supermarkets than usual to find better deals, he cited switching from whole grain to white tortillas for enchiladas, buying produce of a lesser quality as long as it was cheaper, and going a bit hungry just to stretch the money out throughout the week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Congress Mulls Cuts to Food Stamps Program

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is under pressure to cut the rapidly rising costs of the federal government's food stamps program at a time when a record number of Americans are relying on it.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday will review the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture that includes $71 billion for the agency's "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program." That’s $2 billion less than what President Obama requested but a 9 percent increase from 2011, which, critics say, is too large given the sizeable budget deficit.

A record number of Americans -- about 14 percent -- now rely on the federal government's food stamps program, and its rapid expansion in recent years has become a politically explosive topic.

More than 44.5 million Americans received the so-called SNAP benefits in March, an 11 percent increase from one year ago and nearly 61 percent higher than the same time four years ago.

Nearly 21 million households are reliant on food stamps.

Opponents of the program argue that money from the food stamps budget -- with what they call its increasingly lax requirements -- needs to be shifted to other programs such as education and child nutrition. The program's supporters argue that at a time of economic decline, such welfare programs are even more important to try to keep Americans from spiraling into poverty.

The cost of the food stamps program has increased rapidly since it was established by Congress in 1964. It cost taxpayers more than $68 billion last year, double the amount in 2007.

Nutrition assistance now accounts for more than half -- or about 67 percent -- of the USDA's budget, compared with 26 percent in 1980. That shift in focus, critics say, is ineffective because it hasn't put a dent in poverty or hunger in the United States while taking away money from other programs, specifically agricultural programs that should be the main focus of the agency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio