A battle over food stamps is coming to the floor of the U.S. House this week. Republican leaders are backing a bill that would cut $40 billion from the program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, over the next 10 years. At the same time a new study released by the Food Research and Action Center, shows that in the last four years, about one in four households in Utah with children struggle to afford food for their families. Utah is just below the national average by about 1 percent.
Gina Cornia is executive director of Utahns Against Hunger.
“The irony of this is that in the bill they cut $11 million from education and training,” Cornia says. “So we have a bill that has the word work opportunity in it that cuts 11 million in funding to help folks get work. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Utah’s food stamp caseload has declined by about 9 percent over the last year. She says that’s partly because Utah reinstated time limits on adult food stamp recipients without kids. But it’s also because of a slight uptick in the economy.
“But again there are still a lot of families that are struggling to make ends meet and a lot of kids who live in those households may be skipping meals or their parents may be skipping meals so their kids don’t have to,” Cornia says.
SNAP is typically embedded in the farm bill, which is a massive piece of legislation that sets the nations agricultural policy. But in July, House leaders separated SNAP from the farm bill before its final passage.
Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson says he’ll vote against the bill. KUER was unable to reach the other three members of Utah’s House delegation for confirmation on how they plan to vote.