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Advocates Speak Out About SNAP

Advocates for middle- and low-income families in New York are puzzled by the initiative in Congress to cut SNAP benefits. They want to save the food stamp program that keeps millions of Americans from going hungry.

This week the House will vote on a bill that would slash $40 billion from the SNAP program over a 10-year period. Advocates argue the cut would deny between 4 and 6 million people food stamps. The new legislation would also allow states to require SNAP recipients to work.

Jim Wallis is a Christian writer and political activist. He is best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine.  

"Our commitment is, we’re going to tell the politicians, ‘You go after the poorest people because you think that’s safe? We’ll make that politically unsafe for you.’ This is wrong, it’s hypocrisy, and it should not be done."  Wallis thinks it hypocritical for those opposed to government spending to dole out millions in subsidies to farmers, yet make cuts to food stamps.  Mark Dunlea with the Hunger Action Network agrees.

"With hunger at record highs here in the United States and the Capital District, we hope that our Congress representatives, including Congressman Gibson, will vote against any further cuts to the SNAP program, including the pending loss of the economic stimulus.  Some Congress members seem to forget that half the people on food stamps already have a job, but don't make enough money to make ends meet."

Calls to Congressman Chris Gibson, a Republican from the Hudson Valley, were not returned.

According to data from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the average SNAP recipient received about $133.41 a month (or about $4.45 a day) in fiscal year 2012. About 20 percent of those receiving SNAP have college degrees. Fifty thousand of those who receive SNAP assistance are veterans.

Wallis says while he considers those who want to cut food stamp benefits morally compromised, he recognizes the importance of reining in government spending as well.

And there's a cut coming soon for every SNAP household : on November 1, a one-time boost from 2009 stimulus spending expires. In one example, benefits for a family of three will be reduced by 29 dollars a month.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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