Congress mulls cuts, reforms to SNAP - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Congress mulls cuts, reforms to SNAP

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Amarillo, TX - Food stamps could be next in line on the congressional chopping block as the House passes major reforms to the nearly $80 billion a year program.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, has doubled in cost over the last five years.  And now Congress is considering a round of reforms to the program they say will cut costs without cutting services.

On Thursday (Sept. 19), the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1302, which would cut snap funding by about $39 billion over the next decade. Supporters say the resolution is not aimed at reducing costs as much as improving the program's effectiveness With new requirements aimed at promoting state and individual responsibility."

One of the changes in this bill says that the states cannot waive these requirements," says U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry.  "Now remember, it just applies to able-bodied children who don't have young children at home and so forth. So it's narrow, but the idea is to help people be able to stand on their own two feet; not to make them dependent for the rest of their lives."

Critics are concerned some of the reforms, such as stricter eligibility requirements, could have a significant societal impact on community pantries.

"In 2014 nationwide, it's estimated 1.7 million people will lose benefits, and then about a million people per year over the next ten years after that," explains Zack Wilson, Executive Director of the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo.  "Here in the Texas panhandle, that's about 2,900 people or so that would lose if it stands to go into effect as was passed yesterday."

More than thirty thousand people in Potter and Randall counties receive snap benefits, and our local food bank serves about nine thousand households in the area.

The bill would also separate SNAP from the funding umbrella of the omnibus Farm Bill, which also funds crop subsidies.

If you'd like to learn more about SNAP benefits or the proposed reforms, follow the links attached to this story.