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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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SNAP cut decisions tied to Farm Bill

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Decisions on cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) and other nutrition programs likely will be made in the next few weeks.

The programs in question are included in the Farm Bill.

According to a Nov. 21 report on Feeding America’s website: “Our CEO Bob Aiken was on Capitol Hill last week, meeting with key decision makers in the Farm Bill negotiations. Decisions around cuts to critical nutrition programs like SNAP ... and TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) are expected to be made within the next few weeks. The Senate has proposed nearly $4 billion in cuts to SNAP over a 10-year time period. The House has proposed a severe $39 billion in cuts to SNAP over a 10-year time period. ... Charity alone cannot fill this massive hole.”

More than 130 national organizations have signed a letter to Farm Bill conferees, in support of SNAP/food stamps, according to a Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) news release.

That Nov. 12 letter states, among other things: “Indeed, 83 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities.

“SNAP benefits are meager — they now average a mere $1.40 per person per meal. Each SNAP household’s monthly SNAP allotment has gone down at least 5.5 percent as the temporary increase in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was terminated pursuant to 2010 enactments. For example, a household of three now gets $29 less in SNAP benefits per month compared to prior months. In FY 2014 alone, this cut to SNAP benefits will total $5 billion and $11 billion over the next three years.”

According to FRAC, a national anti-hunger organization, as of this August, 947,445 people in Virginia — 11.8 percent of the commonwealth’s estimated 8,001,024 population — were participating in SNAP. According to Virginia SNAP participation reports, the number was 945,067 in October, including 16,728 people in Henry County/Martinsville.

The Associated Press reported that Republicans complain that the popular SNAP safety net program has more than doubled in size since 2008, to $78.4 billion last year, and critics say its growth is partly due to an expansion of the program through President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus law the year he took office. Last year, it helped feed more than 46 million people.

According to FRAC, from August 2008 to August 2013, nationally the number of people participating in SNAP increased from 29,459,946 to 47,665,069, or 61.8 percent. In Virginia, there was a 68.4 percent increase, from 562,781 to 947,445.

In Henry County/Martinsville, the number of SNAP participants increased by 43.7 percent from 11,799 in August 2008 to 16,958 in August 2013, according to Virginia SNAP participation reports.

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, largely by party lines. Fifth District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, and 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, voted for the bill, according to their websites.

A Hurt news release stated that HR 3102 increases oversight of SNAP, improves quality of SNAP-approved stores and eliminates the ability of individuals to be deemed “categorically eligible” when they don’t meet the income or asset requirements for public assistance. It also eliminates state performance bonuses; empowers states to engage able-bodied parents in work and job training as part of receiving food stamps; and prevents states and USDA from advertising for SNAP.

Hurt stated in the release: “By restoring the intent of the bipartisan welfare reforms adopted in 1996 by President Clinton and Republicans in Congress, this legislation helps get Virginia and America back to work. Further, the reforms will generate at least $40 billion in savings for taxpayers over the next 10 years by addressing waste, fraud and abuse and the loopholes in the current program. The passage of this legislation in the House of Representatives is a tremendous step forward in tackling our mounting national debt and putting us on a path to fiscal solvency.”


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