Flint, Michigan  – As the Senate and House Agricultural Committees decide how to construct a new Farm Bill beginning this week, hundreds of thousands of Michigan families are learning that meals for their children, elderly or disabled family members may be sacrificed in the budget fight.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps, the Food Assistance Program ‘FAP’ in Michigan), is the Agriculture Department’s biggest program, amounting to more than 70 percent of the budget. More than 47 million people in the country and 1.7 million people in Michigan get SNAP benefits.

On May 10, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) released a proposal to cut SNAP by almost $21 billion over the next decade. This cut would eliminate all food assistance to nearly two million low-income people – most of which include senior citizens, people with disabilities, or working parents supporting children. The proposal reduces total Farm Bill spending by about $39.7 billion over ten years – more than half of the cuts coming from SNAP. These SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those proposed last year. The proposed SNAP cuts would also be on top of across-the-board cuts (averaging $25 per month for a family of four) already scheduled for every SNAP recipient in the nation beginning November of this year.

Anti-hunger advocates marvel that these proposed cuts ignore the widespread support for SNAP demonstrated by a new nationwide poll by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). “Seven in 10 voters support SNAP,” explains Terri Stangl, Director of the Center for Civil Justice, an advocacy organization that works on hunger issues. “Most people surveyed say cutting food assistance is not the way to go about reducing government spending.”

Stangl hopes that those who care about hunger and worry about SNAP will speak out against the cuts with their members of Congress. The Center is supporting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) amendment to restore $4.1 billion SNAP cuts in the Senate Bill and Representative Jim McGovern’s amendment to restore the $20 billion in SNAP cuts expected to be in the House mark up. “Food is one of our most basic needs. We should not be balancing our national budget by taking food away from those who are struggling and who are already scheduled to lose benefits this fall.”

The Center for Civil Justice (CCJ) advocates for people in Michigan who need help meeting their basic needs. CCJ offers a statewide helpline to assist people in determining whether they qualify for food assistance and the amount in which they qualify and to help people overcome barriers in receiving help for which they are eligible. The Center for Civil Justice’s helpline is (800) 481-4989.

CCJ also offers an on-line calculator where households can get estimates of the monthly food assistance (Bridge Card) benefits for which may be eligible. See www.foodstamphelp.org. Go to our website www.ccj-mi.org, or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you’d be interested in receiving our newsletter send your email to: kcharchan@ccj-mi.org.

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