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Farm Bill Would Cut Food Assistance for 170,000 Texans

On Wednesday, the House advanced a farm bill that includes $2 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). According to the Texas Food Bank Network, these cuts would force over 170,000 Texans off of food assistance immediately and eliminate 482 million meals.

Locally, these cuts would mean 27,000 Texans lose assistance in Harris County, 18,000 in Dallas County, 14,000 in Bexar County, 10,000 in Tarrant county and 5,000 in Travis County.

The Texans who receive SNAP benefits are disproportionately people of color. Over 80 percent of them either are working or have worked in the past twelve months, but their median household income is only around $16,000. One-fourth of them include someone over 60 years old, and almost two-thirds of them include children.

Hunger in Texas is already a serious problem, and is poised to become significantly worse if these cuts are implemented. A study from Feeding America estimates that 4.8 million Texans (including 2 million children) live in households that struggle at times to afford enough food, and collectively face a "meal gap" of almost 785 million meals. These cuts would increase Texas's meal gap to over 1 billion meals.

There already isn't enough food assistance to go around, and even for people who do receive assistance, it's often not enough.

Yesterday, we covered the Congressional SNAP challenge, in which two dozen Democrat members of Congress, including Texas Representatives Beto O'Rourke (TX-16, El Paso) and Marc Veasey (TX-33, Dallas-Fort Worth), tried living on the $4.50 per day that SNAP recipients receive. In an interview with Burnt Orange Report editor Katherine Haenschen, Rep. Veasey said:

"I felt really sluggish all day. My stomach felt cranky all day, and that food doesn't digest in the body as well. It was tough, and that was just for one day. I was constantly reminded that there are people in America who live on this and less every day. This is their life, their kids' life. Kids go to school trying to learn and make good scores on their tests, do the best they can do, and this is how little they get to eat every day."

Bringing down the deficit is going to require difficult compromises. But taking meals away from children, seniors and the working poor should not even be on the table.  

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