Congress to consider cutting food stamps by $4 billion a year - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Congress to consider cutting food stamps by $4 billion a year

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New Orleans, La. - Congress is expected to consider a bill that would cut food stamps by $4 billion a year and put in place new employment requirements for recipients.

The legislation would also end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults who don't have children to receive food stamps indefinitely.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that up to 6 million people nationwide would lose their food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits.

Nearly 400,000 families in Louisiana use food stamps. Children under the age of 18 make up 45 percent of those getting food assistance in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

Employees at The Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans who connect families with programs like food stamps say it would be difficult to provide for even more people who may lose the assistance.

"We're seeing children, we're seeing families, we're seeing seniors, we're seeing individuals who at one time may have at one time been doing OK, but as a result of our volatile economy, have had job cuts, and so the very landscape of hunger has changed dramatically," said Lisa Able of Second Harvest Food Bank.

Nearly one in five people in Louisiana receive food stamps. There are more than 80,800 recipients in Orleans Parish.

In August 2013 alone, more than $122 million in food stamps went to Louisiana recipients, and it's going up month by month as more people receive assistance.

However, it's not the people who truly need the assistance that some lawmakers in favor of the cuts believe are driving up the costs of the program.

"Fraud and misuse of the funds have been the biggest problem in Louisiana, and I honestly think country wide," said Metairie Rep. Cameron Henry.

Henry says the proposed cuts are long overdue in the ongoing process to get a handle on food stamp fraud.

"Reducing the amount of money that's available will eventually force individuals who are in charge of the program to really make sure that the dollars that they have are being used wisely and enlighten them and push them to really enforce the laws that are on the books as it relates to what the funding can be used for and what it cannot be used for," Henry said.

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