House Republicans are planning to vote soon on a bill that could push millions of people off food-aid programs that have expanded since the economic downturn, potentially burdening charities that help feed the hungry.
The $40 billion in cuts to nutrition programs over 10 years included in the bill would be a 5.2 percent reduction from what the Congressional Budget Office estimates would be spent under current policy. Private organizations that provide free meals say it would send many more hungry people to their doors.
“We have no ability to make up for these cuts,” said Margarette Purvis, president and chief executive officer of the Food Bank of New York City. No “magic charity” is sitting on the sidelines waiting to make up the difference, she said. Purvis said her food bank is the largest in the nation, providing as many as 62 million meals a year.
Almost 48 million people in 23 million U.S. households rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps, the largest of the nutrition programs. The figures are for June, the last month for which preliminary data were available, according to the Agriculture Department. Monthly food-stamp usage has risen more than 18 percent over the past four fiscal years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
The proposed reduction would remove 76 million meals a year from New York City alone.