Senate passes Farm Bill resulting in cuts to food stamps

Steena Hymes

February 7, 2014

The U.S. Senate has passed the new Farm Bill which ends direct subsidies for farmers and will cut $90 a month from food stamp subsidies, about 1 percent, in potentially 850,000 households nationwide. This cut on food stamps comes on the tail of already previous cuts in 2013, including the $11 cut from food stamp checks that went into effect Nov. 1. The changes report to trim $8 billion over the next 10 years.

According the House Committee on Agriculture’s website, the reform to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will continue to assist families in their need for food and increase assistance for food banks, but will prevent fraudulent activities regarding SNAP and food stamps, such as ineligible individuals receiving benefits and receiving benefits from multiple states.

With families seeing a decrease in their food stamp checks, food banks are reporting an increase in clients.

Barbara Hand, food closet coordinator from LaGrange Personal Aid, said January saw a spike in increase with people coming to receive food. However, Hand said food stamp guidelines must still be followed and they can only give food based on checks.

The Emmaus Women Shelter has also reported an increase of crowds at its food bank. November and December saw a 22 percent increase in food distribution according to director Kay Elam. She said this trend is expected to continue.

Rodney Broam, a frequent client of Emmaus said his food stamps have been cut $20 per month. However, Broam said he has not experience any difficulty in buying food.

“I’m conservative, I use the food stamps wisely and I don’t trade them out for anything,” he said.

Broam said its all about budgeting, but he is a single individual so it is easier for him. He said in his experience, single mothers with kids have the most trouble making their food stamps last.

Another client of Emmaus is currently living one of these scenarios. She has three children and is living at the shelter because she had to choose between feeding her family or paying her rent. She filled out an application in January and was denied because she makes $10 an hour which they said was too much money.

“It’s sad because groceries are high,” she said. “How are you suppose to balance grocery bills and paying the rent?”

Jessica David of the Emmaus shelter said that they are trying to fill the gap for hard working individuals who are trying to make ends meet through the provision of food boxes.

For those who need extra assistance as a result of food stamp cuts, the Salvation Army may be able to help. Case Worker Marie Marler said that need for food isn’t based on food stamps alone. The total income and family members are taken into account and need for food is based on that. However, food stamps are included in the family income and that may reflect a decrease in the income amount.