House defeats farm bill with provisions for food stamp cuts

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) decried the proposed cutting of more than $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at a press conference in Sunnyside Monday. Photo by Chris Engelhardt.
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The new Farm Bill was voted down by the House of Representatives Thursday by a vote of 234-195.

The House acted after the Senate passed a five-year Farm Bill June 10 to reauthorize agricultural programs, with a final vote of 66 to 27.

The bill — which would have slashed more than $20 billion from the food stamp program — was met with criticism from U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who joined representatives from Food Bank For New York City Monday at a press conference to decry the proposed cuts and detail the impact the cuts would have on residents across the city.

According to Crowley, nearly 2 million residents in the city depend on the program. If the cuts had been implemented, the city could have lost an estimated 200 million meals for low-income New Yorkers.

Crowley, who led the event, gathered with Margarette Purvis, president and chief executive of Food Bank, and other representatives outside Key Food in Sunnyside to voice their opposition to the proposed program cuts.

“The impact of these cuts will be felt in New York City,” he said. “It’s a lifeline. It could mean putting food on the table or children going hungry.”

To highlight the issue, Crowley is participating in the “SNAP Challenge,” where he will commit to living on just $4.50 a day — the food budget of an average SNAP recipient.

“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” he said. “No one should go without enough nutrition. That is unacceptable for our country.”

According to Purvis, more than 47 million Americans nationwide rely on SNAP — commonly known as food stamps — and more than half of recipients in New York state are in households with children. More than one third of state recipients are elderly or disabled.

Purvis lauded Crowley for calling to restore proposed cuts to the SNAP program and said such cuts would devastate a city where 1 in 3 residents struggles to put food on the table.

“This would disproportionately impact the city by cutting food stamp benefits to our neighbors,” she said. “These cuts will deepen the distress of residents.”

To prevent such cuts, Food Bank for New York City recently launched a “Lost Meals” campaign and is raising awareness through social media, letters to Congress and calling on elected officials to take the SNAP Challenge.

“We do not have the resources to make up for what Congress is trying to cut,” Purvis said. “This will bring us one step closer to going over a hunger cliff.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit lostmeals.org.

Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at cengelhardt@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Posted 12:00 am, June 23, 2013
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