SNAP Cuts Would Hit Home for One in Six Arkansans
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A vote is expected today in the U.S. House on a bill that would cut $40 billion over the next 10 years from federal food assistance programs. For Arkansas, it is a vote that hunger relief groups have dreaded.
More than 500,000 Arkansans receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits, which would be reduced or eliminated for millions if H.R. 3102 became law. The bill makes it tougher to qualify for food assistance and limits eligibility for school meals for children and groups such as the unemployed or people who receive other types of assistance.
Kathy Webb, executive director, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said anyone who would vote for it has not been to a food pantry lately.
"So many of the people we meet at the pantries are employed - are seniors and other folks like that. SNAP has the lowest abuse rate of any federal program. It's that demonizing of poor people that is one of the most outrageous points in this debate," she said.
In Arkansas - where one in five people lives below the federal poverty level and not everyone has recovered from the recession - the SNAP program factors into the local economy, Webb said, as well as a family's budget.
"Those SNAP benefits impact everybody in the community, not only the low-income families," she explained. "Those benefits keep a lot of those rural grocery stores open, and they keep other folks employed."
Webb said her organization has been in regular contact with the Arkansas congressional delegation and still cannot predict how they will vote. It is shaping up to be another party-line budget issue, although some Republicans have indicated they might not support such deep cuts to a core safety-net program.
The full text of H.R. 3102 is online at http://www.govtrack.us/congress. Additional information is at www.nokidhungry.org.