Voices opposes Senate cuts to food stamps
An ominous federal budget process continued last week, as the Senate advanced significant cuts to food stamps that would hurt children and working families. Although not as callous toward children as the recent House budget, this legislation nonetheless sacrifices the financial security of millions of families. .
The Senate has leveled its attack at “Heat and Eat” policies, which are meant to prevent families from having to make a grim choice between buying food and heating oil in the winter. As you may know, heating costs have gone up considerably lately and some innovative policies have helped families use their nutrition assistance programs to cushion to blow. The District of Columbia and 14 state governments (mostly northern states with cold winters) have instituted such policies, helping increase food stamp benefits and ensure families don’t face a choice of having only decent food or decent shelter.
The Senate Agriculture Committee last week passed a budget that would slash $4.49 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). These cuts would specifically limit “Heat and Eat” policies, and have the effect of taking away $90 a month in benefits for some households, according to our friends at the Food Research and Action Center. This is especially important when you consider that half of all SNAP recipients are children.
This kind of cut to SNAP goes beyond the federal budget agreement that ended the “deficit ceiling” standoff of last fall. That agreement, like Simpson-Bowles, the Gang of Six, and the other major federal debt deals, recognized the wisdom of protecting food aid in tough times. While addressing the federal government’s debt is important, protecting the bottom line for needy Americans is even more important right now.