‘I Think People Will Starve.’ Experts Are Worried About the Hundreds of Thousands Who Could Lose Food Stamps Come April

Kate Maehr’s job is about to get a lot harder. Maehr runs a food bank that’s part of a network distributing nearly 200,000 meals around Chicago every day. But last year, official unemployment figures for Cook County, where Chicago is located, improved. As a result, some 50,000 residents are at risk of losing their benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.

With so many people getting less help from the government, Maehr knows they will turn to her charity for help. What she doesn’t know is if she’ll be able to feed them. “We don’t have the ability to all of a sudden replace all of those meals that people will lose,” says Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “I guess in my heart of hearts, the thing that keeps me up at night is that I think people will starve.”

This is not just Chicago’s problem. While Cook County just lost its benefits under existing guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, recently finalized a rule that will make it harder for all states to make concessions for able-bodied adult SNAP beneficiaries in struggling areas going forward. Nearly 700,000 people across the country could lose their food stamps once the new rule kicks in in April, according to USDA’s own estimates.

The tightening of the food stamp program is part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to reduce government spending on social safety net programs. “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not allowing it to become an infinitely giving hand,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a press release announcing the rule change in December. “In the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, …read more

Source:: Time – Politics


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