Federal Food Stamp Cuts Could Affect Thousands of Local Families

The federal food stamp program helps more than 43 million people in the United States every year.

Almost 16,000 of those right here in Chatham County.

But a $193 million, 25% proposed cut to the program budget in the latest federal budget has many worried about money and their next meal.

“For them to tell me that it’s going to be a big cut in the food stamps,” explained Monica Adkins, a food stamp receipient back in 2013. “That takes a big toll on me and my family because it’s not easy and it’s not helping. It’s harmful. It’s very harmful.”

That was the reaction to proposed cuts to food stamps back in 2013 that cut only $5 billion.

President Trump wants to slice $193 billion this time.

“Families will have to decide where to spend their dollars,” explained Jen Singeisen, Executive Director of Step up Savannah. “And for any child to be hungry is probably one of the worst thoughts as a parent.”

In Chatham County, almost 16,000 parents use SNAP, or the supplemental nutrition assistance program, to help those thoughts go away.

Families on SNAP get $1.35 per meal per person to help pay for the groceries, and according to Jen Singeisen of Step Up Savannah, give kids more than a meal, and a chance at a better life.

“After SNAP was established mothers with children who had access with children had fewer low weight babies,” explained Singeisen. “Children who received SNAP are performing better in school, which means they are improvement in reading and math skills in elementary schools, which translates into more high school graduates.”

26.4% of those families are living below the poverty rate in Savannah. That means a family of four is making less than $25,000 a year. Without help, they have less of an ability to give their kids quality food.

“Something has to give,” said Singeisen. “Obviously if they are spending less on food than their rent or water bill or electricity bill there’s going to be that give on food.”

“That small amount means so much to families because it expands their ability to buy quality food.”

“When we start talking about where our dollars go, food should not be one of those things.”

To understand, the SNAP program is for the working poor only. The program is to help supplement what they are making.

The cut is so large, Singeisen believes a large number of the 44 million families around the nation currently getting snap money will get cut off entirely.

But its up to Congress to pass the budget before anyone has to worry about what’s “not” on their table.

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