Deciding whether to purchase food or pay bills is something one Maryland mother of two wasn’t that concerned about-with the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But, if cuts initiated by the House Sept. 19 go into effect, she would have to make some tough decisions.
On Sept 19, during a congressional budget battle, the House approved a proposal to slash $39 billion from food stamp funding. The measure would have to clear the Senate, where only light cuts are contemplated, and gain approval from President Obama. But the Senate action on the House scale is not likely and the Obama White House has said the president would veto deep food stamp cuts.
Even so, several states are moving toward food stamp benefit reductions. Maryland isn’t one of them but if the state joins the others that want to trim benefits, the results could mean hungry Marylanders.
“It’s going to have a dramatic effect,” Molly McCloskey director of Share Our Strength’s Maryland: No Kid Hungry Campaign told the AFRO.
“We know that for a family a four, they will lose on average $36 per month,” she said, explaining that, at a reduction of about $1.50 per meal, the reduction means that the family is going to lose about 20 meals in a single month.
Latia Davis, 25 was shocked to learn of the upcoming cuts. As the mother of two young girls, she told the AFRO that the decrease in her food stamps would be a struggle.
“I will probably run out of food, “ she said. “I don’t know what I am going to do. I’m the provider for my girls.”
Davis lives in Northeast Baltimore. With a six-year-old in school and a two-year-old in daycare, she, like many homemakers, face daily struggles.
“I started receiving food stamps when I was 19-years-old after having my first daughter,” Davis told the AFRO “The money for food really help, I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to feed my family.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP has never experienced a reduction in benefits that would affect all participants.
McCloskey said, “We are really working across the governor’s partnership to end childhood hunger.”
In Baltimore many local churches have jumped on board with assisting with families in need.
Rev. Drew Kyndall Ross, pastor of Resurrection Church in East Baltimore told the AFRO “the church should be providing for the community.”
“It’s our responsibility to make sure people are fed.”
Ross said his church doesn’t have a food pantry, however his church partners with the Oliver community in East Baltimore to provide food. “Each time we meet for service or bible study, we serve a meal after service,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to feed everyone who comes.”
McCloskey said in Maryland, “We’ve got 280,000 kids who depend on SNAP benefits.”
She said in the next couple of weeks information will be going out to all the department of social services offices across the state to share with food stamp participants, “not only what’s about to happen so that they are well aware, but also resources they can access in this crisis.”
Avontae Nettles, 21, a Northeast Baltimore resident and single mother of three said she budgets the money she receives via food stamps.
Since being on the program for nearly six years, she experienced increases to her account.
“Six years ago I began receiving $360 per month when I had my first child,” Nettles told the AFRO “Now, after having my third child, I receive $580 per month.”
She said currently she uses all but $80 each month, however with the decrease she said she would probably have to eliminate the snacks her kids consume.
“The program has been useful because I don’t have to come out of my pocket for market money,” she said. “I wasn’t working much and the food stamps help out with that.”
“We are going to see families stretched to the limit and forced to access food banks which maybe overwhelmed and unable to meet that need,” McCloskey said.
McCloskey said, “The cuts that the House of Representatives passed last week are nothing short of disastrous for families.”
“They strike at the very heart of what our country believes in—in terms of supporting those in deepest need—children, the elderly, those who are disabled and frankly working families,” she said. “90 percent of people on food stamps are children, elderly, disabled, or working despite the myths that folks talk about.”
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