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SNAP changes could impact 80K New Yorkers

September 03, 2019 05:49 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)- President Donald Trump wants to make major changes to SNAP, the federal food stamp program that thousands of local families rely on to feed themselves and their children. The President, however, believes it’s rife with fraud and plans to scale it back.  

Currently, states are able to phase families off of SNAP benefits slowly after they start making more money, but the USDA says once the income qualifications aren’t met, a person or family should stop receiving the benefits.  

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The plan also calls to eliminate benefits for those who have more than $3500 in savings.  

Marcia Coley was a working mom with two kids at home when she got custody of two of her grandchildren as well.  With four mouths to feed, she wasn’t afraid to ask for help.

“It was wonderful, because I had extra money to buy food with for my kids and still be able to pay my bills out of my money that I was making every day,” she tells News10NBC.

Food stamps helped her bridge the gap until she secured a job that could provide for everyone.  Now, she helps others who are in a similar situation.  

Many of them, she says, are on the brink of financial stability.

“They get that 50 cent raise, that's going to put them above the eligibility for it. What this proposal wants to do is push them back further down below the poverty line and that’s horrendous,” Coley says.

Currently those hovering around the cut-off for SNAP benefits can stay on in New York, but the USDA is planning to take away a state’s ability to offer that.  As many as 80,000 New Yorkers could lose their benefits, 17,000 folks in Monroe County alone will have their cases re-examined.  

In addition, if a family no longer qualifies for SNAP, its children don’t qualify for free lunches at school.

“There are, without a doubt, kids who are going to lose breakfast and lunch in this community,” says Larry Marx, the CEO of The Children's Agenda.  

The USDA announced the changes to SNAP back in July.  The Trump administration saying it will ensure funding goes only to those who truly need it.  The plan will eliminate about 8% of recipients from the program, saving $2.5 billion.  

Congressman Joe Morelle was at Foodlink in Rochester on Tuesday to rally against the changes. 

“We're doing everything we can do when we go back to Washington, whether they'll be a meeting of the minds when it comes to the U.S. Senate... I will say this, there are a number of Senate Republicans who have actually supported SNAP, I think they've recognized it as a way out of poverty,” he tells News10NBC.

But this is a rule change, not a law change, so technically the President and the USDA do not need the support of Congress.  

Coley is still hoping they’ll listen. 

“You want them (those on SNAP) to be self-sufficient and get off the rolls, but then you're not making it available for them to do this.  They don’t want to be on assistance all their lives, they’re looking to improve their lives,” she says.

There is a public comment period open right now for the rule change.  To read more about it and share your opinion, click here.

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Jennifer Lewke

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