By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The federal stimulus package that increased funding for food stamps since the financial collapse in 2009, expired Friday. That has resulted in across-the-board 5% reductions (read related story). But Pennsylvania U-S Senator Bob Casey is pushing to extend the increased funding levels for another year.
Senator Casey says the cuts may not seem like much – $29 less a month for a family of 3 or $36 less for a family of 4, but the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP – allows struggling families to keep food on the table.
“There’s no guarantee, but we have a shot,” Casey says. “When it passes, it will reach back retroactively, so people don’t have an adverse hit.”
Drexel University Associate Professor Mariana Chilton says most families that receive SNAP benefits already run out of money for food by the third week of each month.:
“This cut will have disastrous affects,” she says. “The fact that we’re dealing with a farm bill with the threat of even more cuts is unacceptable and un-American.”
Chilton says there’s a misconception about who receives food stamp benefits.
“A lot of people think people on SNAP are not working,” she says. “Actually, 80% of the families with children that are on SNAP are working.”
Among them, Tianna Gaines-Turner of Philadelphia’s Frankford section, who has three children – 6-year old twins and a nine year old.
“What do you say to a young child who wants seconds?” says Gaines-Turner. “What do you say to a mother who struggles every day, just to make ends meet? Our children are the future. They have a right to adequate and nutritional foods.”
The SNAP benefit reductions affect 457,000 Philadelphians and 1.8-million Pennsylvanians.