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New York News

Food Stamps A Concern As Farm Bill Nears Senate

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

As the Farm Bill moves through the Senate Agriculture Committee and eventually on to the full Senate, New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand leads one-third of the Senate in calling for the protection of critical food assistance, urging her colleagues not to balance the budget deficit by cutting food stamps. 

The Farm Bill under consideration would slash $4.1 billion in food stamps funding over the next decade. Government statistics show that half of food stamp beneficiaries are children.

Proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP would cut $90 a month for about 190-thousand families in New York City alone, denying them about 70 million meals a year.

Michael Hurwitz is the director of Green Market, a program of the non-profit GrowNYC, which operates 54 farm markets throughout the five boroughs and works with 240 agricultural producers as far as 200 miles upstate from New York City.

Without food stamps, New York City's poverty rate would have increased to nearly 25 percent in 2011, according to a report by the Center for Economic Opportunity. Nearly half of New York City’s population was pushed close to the poverty level in 2011, an increase of more than three percent since 2009. According to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, more than 860,000 New York State children lived in food insecure homes between 2008-2010. This number represents 19.6 percent of New York’s children.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has scheduled a teleconference for Tuesday to outline her priorities for legislation to strengthen New York state’s agriculture industry and rural communities.

Mark Dunlea, with the Hunger Action Network, applauds her efforts and stresses this is NOT the time to be making cuts to the food stamp program.  Michael Hurwitz explains the fallout from cuts to the WIC/Farmer's Market Nutrition Program.

On Friday, Gillibrand, New York’s first member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades, announced her plans to introduce an amendment to the Farm Bill to restore the proposed Senate cuts, as she did last year when the bill was on the Senate floor. The 2012 Farm Bill passed the Senate but was never signed into law due to the House of Representatives not taking up its version of the Farm Bill, with even steeper cuts to the SNAP program.  “In this tough economy, a family losing this access to food assistance would be devastating,” said Senator Gillibrand. “More than half of food stamp recipients are children, eight percent are seniors and unfortunately, as many veterans are using food stamps as any time in history. As a mother and a lawmaker, watching a child go hungry is something I just will not stand for. Families who are living in poverty, who are just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and put food on the table -- they did not spend this nation into debt. And we should not be trying to balance the budget on their backs.”

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