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Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

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Defending “Heat & Eat” in Connecticut

December 3, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. - Many struggling Americans face an impossible choice between paying for food or paying for energy, and some in Washington are considering making it harder, according to anti-hunger advocates. Through "Heat and Eat" policies, many states, including Connecticut, coordinate SNAP (food stamps) and the Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Lucy Nolan of End Hunger Connecticut! says proposed Farm and Agriculture bills in Congress and the "fiscal cliff" negotiations could deprive thousands of Connecticut residents.

"Eighty-five thousand Connecticut households would lose about a hundred dollars per month in their current SNAP benefits, which is an extraordinarily large amount of people who rely on SNAP for their nutritional needs."

She says many of them are elderly or disabled. These are low-income people who can't survive on the minimum $16 SNAP benefit per month, but that may be the amount they are left with if states lose the Heat and Eat option.

Nolan says, with jobs still hard to find and the economy still in recovery, this is the time to strengthen the safety net, not cut it.

"We're really trying to be vigilant to make sure that none of these cuts are in either of the farm bills in the Senate or the House, or part of the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations because there is a lot of talk about cutting entitlements. "

In Washington, Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action Center is hoping a "hands-off SNAP" trend prevails.

"Essentially, the serious bipartisan proposals that have been floated so far, all of those left food stamps alone. And we're certainly working for and hoping that the eventual results here will do the same."

Advocates say 90 percent of SNAP benefits are spent in the first week they are received, amounting to a stimulus to the local economies, often in underprivileged communities.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - CT