WASHINGTON – Eating on $4.50 per day is a reality for many Americans who receive food stamps,and proposed budget cuts may cut that that number.
About 30 members of Congress have committed to the food stamp challenge to protest the 2014 farm bill,which would cut more than $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. Rep. Barbara Lee,D-Calif.,is leading the effort to stop the cuts.
“We have been committing ourselves to limiting our food budget to the average SNAP benefits which is,of course,$1.50 per meal per person,or $31.50 for a week,$4.50 a day,” Lee said. “Through this coordinated effort we will show how vital it is to strengthen and fully fund SNAP.”
Members of Congress said they hope to change the budget cuts as well as inspire their constituents to become aware of these issues. Several have invited constituents to join them in their efforts.
“What I’m going to do is the same thing in Detroit. Not only with my Detroit staff,but with everybody in the city that wants to demonstrate how unrealistic a diet of $4.50 a day is. It just doesn’t work,” Rep. John Conyers,D-Mich.,said.
Participants have already begun to feel the stress of eating on a limited budget.
“For people who are used to walking into a coffee shop and spending $4.50 on a latte,this is a real wakeup call,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky,D-Ill,said.
SNAP currently provides benefits to more than 46 million people,but the proposed cuts would lower that number by almost 2 million people. The program gives temporary assistance to people with low incomes. The majority of recipients leave the program within nine months.
“A former SNAP recipient described it as a trampoline,something that gets you over the hump of a rough spot in your life,and then you can get off of it and live your life again,” Schakowsky said.
The congressional SNAP challenge began Thursday and will end Wednesday.
The Senate passed its version of the farm bill this week. It includes cuts to food stamps and farm subsidies,but not as deep as those in the House bill.
Reach Reporter Jacqueline DelPilar at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.