Jul 11, 2012 at 7:40 am
ST. PAUL, MN (KNSI) - Some Minnesotans who are already struggling to put food on the table could lose a valuable lifeline under the Farm Bill that's up for discussion in the US House Agriculture Committee beginning today.
Colleen Moriarty with Hunger Solutions Minnesota says the proposal would cut more than 16-billion dollars from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
"It puts a lot of restrictions on who is eligible for the programs and it means that the people we're trying to help wouldn't have access to the program," Moriarty said. "So it has a big difference for the state of Minnesota.
Proposed changes to SNAP eligibility would also mean several hundred thousand children in the country losing their eligibility for free school meals.
"We have made use in the SNAP program of the asset test the income test and the ability to access the SNAP program has been automatic through the free or reduced lunch in the school system," Moriarty said. "So that would mean that would immediately make them ineligible.
Opponents understand the federal budget pressures being dealt with in the bill, but note SNAP has been one of the most responsive programs during the recession for those who really need help.
"People who never expected they would find themselves in that position where they couldn't afford to feed their families have really benefited," Moriarty added. "What it means is you are going to find yourself able to be self-sufficient much more quickly."
Moriarty says under the House version of the Farm Bill, up to three-million people nationwide would lose their food assistance. Currently in Minnesota, about one in 10 people are considered 'food insecure,' meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from.