Officials with hunger relief organizations in Arkansas and across the country have expressed concerns about recent efforts to remove food stamp provisions from federal Farm Bill legislation.
Though the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate passed a bill that included funding for nutrition assistance, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill that eliminated monetary support for the food stamp program.
Kathy Webb, a former state lawmaker and current executive director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, says efforts to gut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps, could negatively impact thousands of Arkansans.
“About 500,000 Arkansans are currently receiving SNAP benefits and that has an impact for those families who are receiving the benefits… enabling them to get more nutritious food to meet the needs of their family,” said Webb. “[SNAP] also has an important impact on the local community, because typically SNAP dollars are spent in local stores.”
Webb says every $1.00 spent in SNAP benefits usually calculates to $1.79 in additional spending, because low-income families who use those benefits will have additional money leftover to make other purchases.
Webb admits people using SNAP dollars can sometimes account for 45 percent of the business in a small town grocery store.
She says about 76 percent of the households that get SNAP have either a child, senior citizen, or a person who is disabled and many of the people who receive SNAP are working in low wage jobs that have them fall below the federal poverty guidelines.