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Farm Bill Cuts Imperil the Health of America’s Children

Proposed food stamp cuts are bad for children
Photo: Nancy D. Regan, flickr.com

On Monday, January 27, Senate and House negotiators reached a deal on the Farm Bill. One of the key provisions of the agreement is a devastating cut of $800 million per year from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. 

This cut of $8 billion in SNAP funding over a decade could mean as much as $90 monthly reduction in food stamps for some 850,000 households.

“If enacted, these cuts to one of the most efficient anti-poverty programs in this nation’s history will have severe and long-lasting effects on a huge portion of our nation’s children,” said Dennis Johnson, Children’s Health Fund’s executive vice president of policy and advocacy.  “Good nutrition is critical in the formative years of a child’s life.  With these drastic and shortsighted cuts to SNAP, our leaders in Washington are making it that much more difficult for vulnerable children to do well in school, succeed in life, and become productive members of our society.”

The proposed reductions come on top of SNAP cuts that went into effect on November 1 – following the end of recession-era supplemental funding – which reduced spending by $5 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. Previous cuts had already reduced benefits for most of the nearly 48 million SNAP recipients by $36 for a family of four receiving the maximum amount and $11 for a single adult. 

According to according to analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “more than 80 percent of SNAP households have monthly income below the federal poverty line ($19,500 a year for a family of three), and more than 40 percent live in deep poverty, with income below half of the poverty line.” Cuts to SNAP stand to disproportionally hurt those who depend on it the most –children, the disabled and the elderly.

“Further cuts to SNAP will mean hunger and food insecurity will continue to worsen for those least able to withstand the impact of our struggling economy,” said Johnson.  “Once again, Congress fails to see that proposals like these do not save money in the long run.  By undermining the health and potential of our most vulnerable citizens today, they are compromising the future of all Americans.”

The bill, which must pass in both chambers and be signed by President Obama before becoming law, is expected to go up for vote in the House on Wednesday, January 29.