LATINO VOICES
02/06/2014 08:49 am ET

How The $8 Billion Food Stamp Cut Will Affect Latino Families

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The $8 billion cut to the food stamps program included in the farm bill will affect hundreds of thousands of Latino families that are struggling to put food on the table.

The Senate voted Tuesday to approve the farm bill, which includes a provision to slash more than $8 billion over the next 10 years from the food stamps program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill now heads to President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to sign it into law on Friday.

The $8 billion cut will impact more than 850,000 low-income families in the next decade. These families will see their food assistance reduced by an average of $90 per month. That’s on top of a $5 billion cut that hit the program in November.

The National Council of La Raza says the $8 billion cut to the food stamps program will “exacerbate hunger” for many Latino families. It estimates that 17 percent of the more than 47 million Americans who benefit from food stamps are Latinos.

“It is an especially important lifeline for Latinos, since Latino children make up about two-fifths of all children living with hunger in this nation,” NCLR said Tuesday of the SNAP program.

A report released in March 2013 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the overwhelming majority of households that benefit from food stamps are families with children, seniors or people with disabilities. And 83 percent of SNAP households have incomes below the poverty line.

Latinos react to the $8 billion food stamps cut

Opponents of the $8 billon cut to the food stamps program say it will hurt families struggling to put food on the table, while supporters say the program is costing taxpayers a lot of money.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of NCLR, denounced the $8 billion cut to the food stamps program, saying it “will only exacerbate hunger, threaten our economy and jeopardize our nation’s future.”

“It is deplorable that our government officials recently spoke about addressing income inequality and helping the long-term unemployed but Congress still voted to cut $8 billion from SNAP,” Murguía said in a statement.

NCLR noted Tuesday that the SNAP program has proven to be effective in helping to prevent children from going hungry as well as keeping low-income families out of poverty.

“This callous action that takes food out of the mouths of children and people struggling to make ends meet must be reversed,” Murguía added, referring to the $8 billion food stamps cut. “It’s past time that we prioritize the nutrition and health of our children and protect programs such as SNAP.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the $8 billion cut say the SNAP program is costing a lot of money. They point out that the U.S. government spends about $80 billion a year to keep the program running, that’s up from the $55.6 billion it cost five years ago.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is among the members of Congress who would like to see more cuts to the food stamps program.

“Instead of locking people into an endless cycle of dependence, we should be focused on making it easier for people to stand on their own feet by getting this weak economy booming,” he said Tuesday, explaining his “no” vote on the farm bill.

This article originally appeared on VOXXI under the title "The $8 billion food stamps cut will hit many Latino families."

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