Federal Farm Bill includes cuts and restrictions to food stamp p - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Federal Farm Bill includes cuts and restrictions to food stamp programs

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The $860 billion Farm Bill being discussed in Washington includes cuts and restrictions to the nation's most–essential food assistance program, which helps 1 in 11 Nebraskans afford meals for their families.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called SNAP, is an essential food assistance program.

It helps 175,000 low income Nebraskans each year.

These families turn to SNAP when they hit tough times or are struggling to get by on low wages.

"The proposal in the house of representatives right now would dramatically alter the program, including cutting benefits or reducing benefits to over 2 million people across the U.S. including what I would estimate to be thousands of Nebraskans," said James Goddard, Program Director of Economic Justice and Health Care Access for Nebraska Appleseed.

75% of the families who are receiving food stamps in Nebraska have children.

A quarter of them have a senior or someone who is disabled.

Nebraska families receiving aid from SNAP are commonly in low paying jobs that pay hourly wages below the state average.

The bill's plan to cut benefits in favor of work programs would hurt these families.

"People can have a full–time job and work and still be low enough income to qualify for the program. The program, SNAP, steps in and helps to put food on the table," said Goddard.

Research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows SNAP lifts 34,000 Nebraskans out of poverty each year.

There is also an economic benefit in helping to give impoverished families a bit of a boost when times get tough.

"For every dollar spent in SNAP, it generated $1.70 in economic activity and it makes sense because people get money on a card every month and they go to their local grocery store and they spend it every month. They take those dollars and they put it back into their local community every time they get it," said Goddard.

Some of the stricter work requirements in the bill include requiring adults between 18 and 59 to work or enroll in a training program. The cut in benefits would then support those programs.

The farm bill will be voted on this week by the House of Representatives.

If it passes, then it will head to the Senate floor.

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