Funding cuts to food aid programs proposed by Congress would eliminate benefits for half a million recipients of food stamps who, despite the aid, are still struggling to get enough to eat, according to a report released Tuesday by the Health Impact Project.
The report, which was commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, says the funding cuts proposed by Congress to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would eradicate food stamp benefits altogether for 500,000 people.
Some 160,000 to 305,000 more people could have their food stamp benefits slashed to the point of becoming “food insecure,” the Health Impact Project says.
In addition, cutting SNAP benefits would shift costs to the medical sector because of anticipated increases in poverty-related health problems.
If the SNAP cuts were to be implemented, "diabetes costs alone could nearly equal [the Congressional Budget Office’s] estimate of $20 billion in savings over 10 years," the report said.
More than 47.5 million people in the U.S. rely on food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the annual cost of SNAP has doubled in the last five years to reach $80 billion.
House Republicans have proposed cutting funding for the program by 3 percent, changing eligibility requirements or redistributing federal SNAP funding for states to disburse.
Earlier this month Republicans pushed – and passed – a pared-down agriculture bill that didn’t include food stamp benefits for the first time in decades.
And last week, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), proposed legislation that would allow individual states to strengthen work requirements for food stamp recipients.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press