|Updated: 7/11/2012 10:00 am
||Published: 7/10/2012 9:32 pm
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is very concerned about the possible cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) funding included in a version of the Farm Bill scheduled to be debated in the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday.
They say while they don't know what the future holds; they may need ten times as much food to meet the needs of their partners if or when the deep cuts that have been proposed go into effect.
The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September. The current legislative draft says the House would reduce SNAP spending by about $1.6 billion a year. That means at least 500,000 families nationwide could do with fewer SNAP benefits, including thousands in the sooner state.
“The worst case would be that we would find families that simply do not have enough food to eat and don't have the ability to go and find food assistance,” Susan Tilkin with the CFBEO said.
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is worried if these cuts go through more people will rely on them.
“We would be very concerned that we couldn't meet the need,” Tilkin said.
She says it's especially worrisome for families in Green Country.
“Oklahoma is the hungriest state in the nation. We're tied with Arkansas,” Tilkin said.
Programs meant to help curb that hunger could also be nixed.
“We thought that we were really starting to make a little headway with the double up program at Cherry Street Farmers Market,” Tilkin told FOX23.
That double up program allows SNAP dollars to be spent at farmer's markets. It’s an initiative that was working in Tulsa to get families to eat healthier.
“We're just now getting the word about to those SNAP recipients. We're getting repeat customers and people who are just thrilled to be able to spend this money at the market, and we want to keep this momentum going,” Melanie Hunter with the Cherry Street and Brookside Farmer’s Markets told FOX23.
Voters aren't sure about the cuts either.
“There are lots of things that could be cut; this might not be best thing. There's lots and lots and lots of fat out there that could be cut,” Amy Eddings told FOX23.
The Senate has already approved a version of the farm bill. In its version, cuts to the SNAP benefit program are less than what the house is proposing. The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to start debating the bill this morning. That committee is headed up by Oklahoma District Three Representative Frank Lucas.