Farm Bill signed but still a ‘mixed bag’ for food stamps

Colorado avoided heavy cuts to the state’s food stamps program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the Farm Bill. President Obama signed the bill today, after it passed out of the U.S. Senate earlier this week with a 68-32 bipartisan vote and advanced from the House of Representatives with a strong vote of 251-166.

This Farm Bill is an improvement to the drastic and Draconian cuts proposed in 2013 that would have been harmful to many Colorado neighbors and our state’s economy. The House-version of the nutrition title, which passed last fall, proposed slashing food stamps by $40 billion. Its approval would havecaused more than 55,000 Coloradans to fall off the program altogether, as well as resulted in deep losses among grocery retailers and those whose jobs depend on the food retail supply chain.

We’re thankful for Colorado delegates who stand behind the safety-net program that serves as an economic bridge for those trying to get back on their feet, as well as supports children, seniors and those who are disabled.

While this bipartisan compromise excludes the harsh House provisions to food stamps, the Farm Bill is still a mixed bag.

The nutrition title of the Farm Bill most notably includes $8.6 billion in cuts to food stamps over 10 years, primarily focused on “Heat and Eat,” an opt-in program utilized by 17 states to connect food stamp allotment with fuel assistance for heating and cooling.

Coloradans won’t be directly impacted by the ‘heat and eat’ cuts since our state does not participate, but more than 850,000 people across the nation will see their benefits shrink by an average of $90 per month. This follows the recent benefit reduction, which impacted all food stamp households and continues to make it more challenging for struggling families and individuals to put food on their table. The average household utilizing food stamps now only receives about $1.40 per meal, per person, following the across-the-board benefit reduction in November 2013.

Instead of slashing food stamps, we need to strengthen the vital program that provides access to healthy food. Hunger should be more of a priority, because no one deserves to go hungry.

We’re thankful for Colorado delegates who stand behind the safety-net program that serves as an economic bridge for those trying to get back on their feet, as well as supports children, seniors and those who are disabled.

And thank you for contacting your elected officials about the Farm Bill. We hope that you will continue to use your voice to help protect our vulnerable neighbors. Only together can we create positive change and one day have a hunger-free Colorado.

Kathy Underhill
Executive Director
Hunger Free Colorado

About Sarah Skeen

Sarah is the Community Voice Advocate for Hunger Free Colorado

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