NEW YORK—Low-income New Yorkers could lose an estimated 200 million meals through changes to the 2014 Farm Bill if the House of Representatives votes in favor of the bill this week.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, stands to loose $20 billion in funding. “If included in the final bill, these cuts will have a devastating impact on New York City residents,” warns a June 18 joint statement from Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Council members Annabel Palma, Domenic Recchia Jr., and Maria Arroyo.
There were an estimated 1.8 million New Yorkers in the program in December 2010, according to the statement, which notes that enrollment has remained at a steady level since then.
In New York, more than half of SNAP recipients are households with children. More than a third are the elderly or disabled.
The cuts would disproportionately affect people in New York, according to a press release from Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley’s office. It states, “one proposed change would target recipients who receive assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program—nearly half of the households affected by this cut live in New York City.”
Crowley said the focus should be on mitigating the problem, rather than cutting funding. “Our focus should be on providing opportunities to help lift families out of poverty, grow the economy, and create economic stability for all, not stripping away this critical lifeline,” he said in a press release.
To highlight the struggles of families on food stamps, Crowley and more than 30 other congressman in the House of Representatives are participating in the SNAP Challenge, where they are living on $4.50 a day.
“By taking the SNAP Challenge, we’re literally putting our money where our mouth is and demonstrating exactly how important the SNAP program is to millions of families in New York and across the country,” Crowley said. “Living off of $4.50 a day is no easy task, but I hope that through this challenge I can help raise awareness of the struggles so many families face day-in and day-out.”
For many households, SNAP is preventing them from falling deeper into poverty. In 2011, the program brought an estimated 4.7 million Americans—including 2.1 million children—above the poverty line. Aside from cuts to SNAP, the updated Farm Bill will also make it more difficult to qualify for food stamps.