Food stamp recipients will see a reduction in their monthly stipend
beginning Friday as Congress begins negotiating further cuts to the program in which some 47 million Americans are enrolled.
A 2009 economic stimulus that boosted the government subsidy will cease this month, which the Agriculture Department says will result in an approximate $36 reduction for a family of four receiving food stamp dollars, the Associated Press reported
In recent years, due largely to the persistent struggling economy, many Americans have turned to food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as it is known as today, to supplement their dwindling incomes and support their family.
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Presently, 1 in 7 Americans are enrolled in SNAP, the AP noted, amounting to annual cost of $80 billion, which has more than doubled since 2008.
On Wednesday, negotiations began in Congress with the GOP-controlled House passing legislation that would tighten eligibility requirements while cutting food stamps by an additional $4 billion annually.
Additionally, the House bill ends government waivers that permit able-bodied food stamp recipients above 18 years of age without dependents from receiving the subsidy indefinitely.
The House bill has already been opposed by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, who have proposed and passed legislation in the Senate farm bill that amounts to just ten percent of the cuts that the Republicans in the Congress put forth.
If a solution is not found by year's end, the current Farm bill would end affecting dairy production costs and giving way to higher milk prices for consumers.
"It took us years to get here but we are here," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told the AP. "Let's not take years to get it done."
Charities across the U.S. are already reportedly preparing for reductions in food stamp benefits, yet warn if the cuts are too steep, they cannot adequately fill the void left by SNAP.
"Charities cannot fill the gap for the cuts being proposed to SNAP," Maura Daly of Feeding America, a network of the nation's food banks, told the AP. "We are very concerned about the impact on the charitable system."
Daly warned that if the House cuts were enacted, food banks might have to as much as double their current levels of distribution.
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According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the House bill became law as many as 3.8 million people could potentially lose their benefits next year.
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