Thousands of East Texans threatened by proposed SNAP cuts - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Thousands of East Texans threatened by proposed SNAP cuts

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TYLER (KYTX) - The U.S. House begins debate on a Farm Bill that proposes $20 billion in cuts to the SNAP food program, formerly known as food stamps.

It's a move causing a lot of controversy, especially as 26 congressmen are doing what's called the "SNAP Challenge." That means they're living off of what families on SNAP live off of every day, which on average adds up to $1.50 a meal, or $4.50 a day.

When CBS 19's Courtney Friedman went to the grocery store to see what it added up to, she found that one Powerade, one apple, a small can of peas, one loaf of thin white bread, and some hot dogs all added up to $4.37. 

Hearing about the possible $20 billion cut to SNAP sends Tyler mom Tammy Freeman into a panic.

"Oh my goodness. How am I going to feed my kids?" she says.

With four children and a four month old grandchild to feed, she gets about $200 a month from SNAP, which she uses through her Lonestar card.

"My kids are like 'Mom I want this, I want that.' I say, 'Baby we can't afford it!'"

The proposed Farm Bill crafted by the House Agriculture Committee would save about $38 billion over 10 years. The bill includes subsidies to crop insurance programs. Committee members say SNAP makes up 70 percent of agriculture spending - money they say could go elsewhere. 

East Texas Food Bank Executive Director Dennis Cullinane is one of many who disagrees. 

"The Texas Food Bank Network has estimated that in East Texas counties that we serve alone, it's going to knock about 9,000 people off of SNAP benefits over the 10- year period," Cullinane says.

State-wide, 171,000 Texans would be kicked off the SNAP program. 83 percent of beneficiaries are children and disabled adults.

"That's 482 million missing meals," Cullinane says, "and from a statewide economic standpoint, it's going to be a billion dollar loss to the retail food industry."

"I hope they keep the program going not for the adults, but for the kids, because they need the food," Freeman says,  hoping soon, she won't have to rely solely on local food pantries already jammed with clients.

A similar farm bill was proposed last year, that would have taken $16 billion from SNAP, but it never even made it to a house vote.

Cullinane confirms through research, that there are people who take advantage of the SNAP program. That's a complaint from many who think the program should be cut. However, Cullinane says less than five percent of the people who use the program reportedly take advantage.
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