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home : news : news August 22, 2017

8/11/2017 10:15:00 AM
Organizations argue FoodShare cut would affect entire communities
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

In January of 1963, President John F. Kennedy asked for legislation authorizing a permanent Food Stamp Program after years of legislative proposals, studies, reports and several small pilot programs.
A year later, a renewed request from President Lyndon B. Johnson for a permanent Food Stamp Program prompted the passage of The Food Stamp Act of 1964 - part of Johnson's "War on Poverty." The Food Stamp Act of 1964 authorized a food stamp program to permit low income households to receive "a greater share of the Nation's food abundance."
"As Americans, we came together to build this program to provide people at or near the poverty line with a little money for food," David Lee, Executive Director of Feeding Wisconsin said.
It was also a time when Americans considered food a "basic need" and the connection was made that if someone does not have adequate food, it affects everything they do, Lee added.
While President Johnson's first food stamp pilot programs included 380,000 participants in 40 counties and three cities in the U.S., today 45 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program nationwide. Now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the average person in the U.S. receives $127.57 a month in food benefits, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
In Wisconsin, approximately 700,000 residents utilize FoodShare, the Wisconsin form of SNAP. According to Feeding America, about 62% of those 700,000 residents that utilized the program last year in Wisconsin were children, seniors or the disabled.
There is a possibility that eligibility for the FoodShare Program could change as President Donald Trump recently proposed a $193 billion cut to SNAP over the next decade. While President Trump advocates the cut will "close eligibility loopholes, target benefits to the neediest households and require able-bodied adults to work," representatives from organizations dedicated to feeding Wisconsinites, like Feeding Wisconsin and Second Harvest Food Bank, are travelling around the state to share information and educate residents on how the proposed cut would not only affect their organizations and the people utilizing SNAP, but every community in the country.
For Lee and Feeding Wisconsin, the statewide association of Feeding America food banks, the proposed cut would negatively affect those who utilize the 1,000 food pantries in the state connected to the organization, as well as the food pantries themselves, who would have to try to provide more food to more residents in need.
"[The cut] would create a hole in the amount of money people have in their budget to buy food," Lee said. "A 25% cut is not an insignificant amount for people living paycheck to paycheck, making ends meet."
Nine hundred million dollars comes into the state each year through SNAP benefits, he added. Every five dollars spent in SNAP benefits generates nine dollars in the local economy, he continued, so cutting the program would have a negative impact on local businesses that redeem the benefits as well.
Two thousand people in Iowa County depend on FoodShare benefits, resulting in $2.5 million a year in benefits to the county, Dan Stein, President/CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin said. One in 12 people in Iowa County rely on FoodShare to provide basic adequate nutrition.
"Not only are there 2,000 people affected, the whole community is affected," he added....
See the rest of the story in the August 10 Chronicle issue.

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