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Food banks concerned that 3 million could lose access to food stamps under Farm Bill

Food banks concerned that 3 million could lose access to food stamps under Farm Bill
Posted at 6:02 PM, May 16, 2018

Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks across the United States, expressed concern on Wednesday on pending legislation that could strip food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program away from nearly 3 million Americans. 

House Resolution No. 2 is up for consideration by the House of Representatives, which would add employment stipulations to some food stamp recipients, and their families. 

Feeding America's primary concern is that the nation's food banks will not be able to handle increased demand if the legislation becomes law. 

"Feeding America's nationwide network of member food banks will not be able to make up for the lost meals," Feeding America said in a statement. "We urge lawmakers in the House to reconsider their approach and amend their legislation before sending it to the Senate to ensure that the final legislation does not take food off the table for families who need it."

According to a Congressional Budget Office projection, the federal government would reduce spending on direct benefits by $9.2 billion from 2019 to 2028. But the CBO claims it would cost the federal government in additional $7.7 billion in administrative costs to enforce the employment requirement. Overall, the federal government would be projected to save $1.5 billion over the 10-year period if the employment requirement is enacted. 

The CBO said that beginning in 2021, food stamp recipients between the ages of 18 and 59 who are neither disabled nor caring for a child under the age of 6 would need to either work or participate in a training program for 20 hours each week; that requirement would increase to 25 hours each week in 2026.

The push to add work requirements to those receiving government assistance got a boost last month when President Donald Trump signed an executive order, which was intended to reduce poverty. 

"As part of our pledge to increase opportunities for those in need, the Federal Government must first enforce work requirements that are required by law," the executive order, signed by Trump on April 10, reads. "It must also strengthen requirements that promote obtaining and maintaining employment in order to move people to independence."

Spending on food stamps is part of a larger "Farm Bill" legislation. The total cost for the Farm Bill is $867 billion from 2019 to 2028. The farm bill includes spending on rural development, farm subsidies, crop insurance, in addition to food stamps.  

According to USDA figures, 41.2 million people lived in food-insecure households. Nearly 40 million people received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, as of February 2018. The 3 million who would stand to lose access to food stamps represent 6.5 percent of recipients. 

"The harsh cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program included in the House Farm Bill would hurt Americans facing hunger across the country and reverse decades of progress in addressing food insecurity across the United States," Feeding America added in a statement.