Nation could see billions cut from food stamp program -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Nation could see billions cut from food stamp program


The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would cut $40 billion from the nation's food stamp program over about a decade. That could severely impact the nearly two million Georgians who use the program to help put food on the table.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called SNAP, helps Atlanta resident Julia Cantrell eat. She said she only gets about $50 a month in benefits and has to make a long bus journey to the Antioch Baptist Church, in Downtown Atlanta, for free food from its food pantry about once a month.

"At my age, who's going to hire me?" Cantrell said. "They, say, ‘You're at the age of retirement, you're too slow.'"

Some of the food Cantrell picked up today came to the church's food pantry via the Atlanta Community Food Bank, where Richard LeBer works. LeBer said he believes that those who support the bill expect charities like his to help fill the gap, something he said won't be possible, considering many food banks are already struggling to keep up with growing demands for food.

"It's going to be a struggle," LeBer said. "We will certainly do everything we can. We are one of the largest private sector food sources for people who are hungry. The magnitude of cuts that are being discussed, on top of the cuts that are already coming, add up to more food being cut from benefits by the federal government, than the entire national food bank network distributes in a year."

LeBer said food stamp recipients will already see cuts coming in November that could equal about $36 a month less than what they normally get.

But supporters of the bill, like Rep. Paul Broun, a republican from Athens who voted for it, said the cuts are necessary.

"It cuts nearly $40 billion from current spending levels, eliminates waste, fraud, and abuse and ensures that those who need help the most do not go hungry," Broun said.

But Rep. John Lewis, a democrat from Atlanta, said he was bitterly opposed to the cuts.

"Why take food out of the mouths of little babies, from senior citizens who are struggling to find a way to pay for food, medication and housing? That's not right, fair or just," Lewis said. "A nation with a trillion dollar budget is not in the place where this kind of choice is necessary."

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