Proposed Food Stamp Changes Cause Concern
George Jones joined Bread for the City 22 years ago.
He said the number of low-income residents coming there for food, clothes, medical care and legal services largely remains constant, but it is up over the past year.
“More people in the District are complaining of food insecurity, typically the definition is are at risk of missing a meal, not having enough food to feed their families during the course of some period in the month,” said Jones, CEO of Bread for the City.
Jones said proposals in Congress would not help.
The House Farm Bill proposes new work requirements for those using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program - better known as food stamps.
Under the plan, adults would have to spend 20 hours per week working or participating in state-run training programs, but Jones said able-bodied individuals cannot fill jobs that do not exist.
“If you increase the requirements for work, you’re really increasing the likelihood that they’re going to be kicked off the program,” said Jones.
“Really investing in the infrastructure that currently exists to really help poor, hungry families be able to achieve the ultimate food security, which is a family sustaining job," said Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA-5)
Rep. Thompson said those that cannot find a job could choose job training instead and keep their benefits. He said learning a new skill will open up new positions, helping that person and the economy.
“That doesn’t require anything other than an employer who is desperately looking for a qualified and trained employee," said Rep. Thompson. "They’re in every county, and they’re in every county in America.”
Representatives voted down the Farm Bill, but it could resurface soon. Many popular parts of the current law will expire at the end of September if a new version is not passed
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is also weighing in on the proposal.
She has a bill that would expand current SNAP benefits for vulnerable children across the country.
“We should be increasing the amount of food stamps we have, not decreasing," said Sen. Gillibrand. "We should be creating more flexibility, so food stamps can get to families that need it.”
The Senate's version of the Farm Bill has yet to be released.