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174,000 Nebraskans Could Be Impacted by SNAP Cuts

More than 174,000 Nebraskans rely on SNAP benefits to feed their families. (polycart/Flickr)
More than 174,000 Nebraskans rely on SNAP benefits to feed their families. (polycart/Flickr)
May 30, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. -- According to advocates for the poor, President Trump's budget would make Americans weaker, sicker and hungrier.

The $4.1 trillion budget boosts military spending and doles out huge tax breaks, paid for by cuts to programs that millions of low-income Americans rely on to survive.

The president's budget called for slashing the federal nutrition program by $192 billion over ten years. Rachel Olive, executive director at Hunger-Free Heartland, said that's a 25-percent reduction in assistance for more than 174,000 Nebraskans.

"Those families are still going to be in need and then the safety net goes away,” Olive said. "And we're going to see an increase in people accessing pantries; an increase of people probably having to choose between accessing medical care and insurance and food. And that's not something any family wants to be in."

The Trump administration has said the cuts will be balanced by stricter work requirements and reduced fraud.

Olive said the work requirement argument is a catch-22 because similar requirements already exist. She said the vast majority of people who receive SNAP are children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, veterans and working parents.

"Things happen. Medical issues happen,” she said. "So if you have a family that goes through a medical crisis and that person has to stop working, are we going to penalize them for accessing support services just because they're sick?"

Executive director of Hunger Free America, Joel Berg, added that cutting benefits not only would hurt the poor, it would hurt the economy as a whole.

"Every dollar spent on SNAP generates $1.8 of economic activity and much of that is in the very rural parts of the country that most supported Trump,” Berg said.

The president's budget also proposes cutting $800 billion from Medicaid and $272 billion from welfare programs.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE