Food Stamp Budget Could Face Cuts

By Nancy Marshall Genzer
Marketplace Morning Report

The federal budget for food stamps doubled during the recession, but major cuts to the program are now on the table.Jeremy Hobson: There’s some new analysis this morning on the number of Americans living in poverty. And listen to this figure: 1 in 15 are living 50 percent below the poverty line. A lifeline for them is the $70 billion-a-year food stamp program.

But as Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports, it could be in line for big cuts.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: The annual budget for food stamps doubled during the recession. Republicans say some of that growth is due to fraud. So they want to hold the food stamp budget at about $71 billion next year. Democrats want to spend about $80 billion. Charities say they wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand if food stamp funding was cut.

Paula Thornton-Greear is a spokeswoman for Feeding America, which supplies food banks.

Paula Thornton-Greear: We’re serving 37 million people each year, and that is a 46 percent increase from 2006.

Some economists say there would also be an impact on the broader economy if less was spent on food stamps.

Sheila Zedlewski analyzes food stamps at the Urban Institute. She says food stamp spending creates jobs.

Sheila Zedlewski: You need clerks at the grocery store. Truckers. Food delivery, food production. It increases demand.

Zedlewski says each food stamp dollar spent generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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