Food Stamps and the Scary 2012 Farm Bill

ColorLines' Akiba Solomon warns of the real-life consequences for one in seven U.S. residents if cuts to SNAP are passed.

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ColorLines' Akiba Solomon warns of the real-life consequences for one in seven U.S. residents if SNAP cuts are passed.

Hear me out on what may seem like a wonky point: The Farm Bill, which expires every five years, is critical. It covers agriculture, conservation and forestry policy, international food aid -- and SNAP, the program formerly known as "food stamps."

The Senate version of this year's Farm Bill cuts about $4.5 billion from SNAP. In real life, this means 500,000 households would lose $90 a month in benefits, according to the Food and Research Action Center. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee's version, passed early this month, includes a staggering $16.5 billion in SNAP cuts. Per Feeding America, this would result in 3 million people losing all of their benefits, 300,000 children going without school lunch, and 500,000 households losing $90 in monthly grocery money.

I haven't seen a race breakdown of these potential losses, but I can tell you that of SNAP households in 2010, 36 percent were white, 22 percent were black,10 percent were Latino, 2 percent were Asian, 3 percent were Native American (19 percent didn't report their race). Most adult recipients were women and a hefty share were single moms.

I don't want to beat you over the head with stats, but it's really important to note how many folks are using SNAP. About one in seven U.S. residents received this help in 2011, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The year before, three out of four households on SNAP included a child, elderly or disabled person. For the most part, SNAP participants were below the poverty line and their food budgets were very small.

Read Akiba Solomon's entire piece at ColorLines.

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