On Thursday, Republicans on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee called for changes to an existing government food assistance program known as SNAP. The proposed Farm Bill would cut billions of dollars to the current program and enforce stricter requirements for those seeking assistance.
However, some worry that the changes that lawmakers are proposing could in fact do more harm than good and instead leave millions of American’s hungry. For Central Texas Food Bank Senior Director Kathy Green this proposed draft could possibly impact daily operations.
There are currently $40 million individuals nationally who benefit from the food stamps.
Here in Texas, around $3.7 million people use the SNAP program.
She said there is no single face to food insecurity and it impacts every community across the nation, including Texas. “Within 21 counties, there’s a lot of need out there a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of their neighbors access some of their food from us. Hunger is hidden in full view,” said Green.
Green said currently the Central Texas Food Bank serves around 44,000 families on a weekly bases including those who use the SNAP program.
The Congressional Budget Office’s official analysis shows $19.5 billion in benefit cuts, $5.8 billion in give-backs, for a total cut to benefits of around $14 billion.
“So we see a lot of people who are working sometimes working full time or more than one job and making daily choices between basic needs so trying to figure whether to put food in their pantry or gas in their tank,” said Green.
She said for families who need assistance, cutting benefits including food stamps will in turn drive a demand on local food banks to make up the difference and fill a gap. “We can help people as much as we can but we cannot substitute what SNAP does. For every 12 meals that SNAP provides we provide one. We can pick up the slack,” said Green.
On Thursday a Farm Bill was crafted by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX). Conaway released a statement to FOX 7 saying that the bill supports Americans and claims that the bill invests in able bodied workers, job training and work programs for unemployed people which in turn will provide “a springboard out of poverty to a good paying job."
However, Green disagrees said most people that use SNAP and come through the doors of the Central Texas Food Bank do have jobs. “These are people who want to work but they may have barriers to work they may need extra education they may have something on their record. Cutting off their food so they can find a job is not the way to go,” said Green.
The bill now enters the mark-up phase, where members of the house agriculture committee can propose changes to the bill.