During the debate, Republicans cited the example of a surfer in California who said he used food stamps to buy lobster. They also said the aid programs, which have expanded rapidly since the economic downturn, are too often viewed as a permanent government subsidy rather than short-term relief. The reforms made by this bill will put people on the path to self-sufficiency and independence, said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor , a Virginia Republican, before the vote. Close Vote The vote was close — 217 Republicans supported it, while all 195 Democrats and 15 Republicans, mostly from the Northeast, opposed it. Opponents, who had brought in soup-kitchen leaders and a celebrity, Tom Colicchio from televisions Top Chef, to attack the bill, said the measure was heartless. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the legislation amounted to snatching food out of the hands of the poor. The Nevada Democrat said the House would do better to vote on a Senate-passed bill, which he said saves $23 billion over a decade, including $4 billion from the food-stamp program, without forcing needy children to skip meals. Lawmakers next must figure out how to merge the House and Senate bills, which also deal with farm subsidies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 47.7 million people received benefits under its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, in June 2013. That compares with 41.2 million people who got the aid in June 2009. Limit Waivers The cuts in the House measure would come through reducing waivers on work requirements and time limits for childless adults, as well as by restricting eligibility gained from enrolling in other social-welfare programs. Enrollment cuts would taper off after fiscal 2014, averaging 2.8 million a year through 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office . Beneficiaries would face a requirement that they register as looking for work under the bill, and take any suitable job offered.
Meatless Monday: DC VegFest Takes Action With a Vegan Food Drive
“As hunger increases, the demand for our food also increases,” says Page Crosland, Capital Area Food Bank’s communications director. Last year, the food bank fed close to 500,000 people, distributing 45 million pounds of food. Half of it was fresh produce. “We put a big emphasis on nutritious fruits and vegetables,” says Crosland. The food bank aims not only to feed people in need, but to nourish them. DC VegFest feels the same way. The vegan food drive is one way to “give back to the community,” says Elena Johnson, Compassion Over Killing’s special project manager. Festival attendees can do their part by bringing sealed nonperishable vegan items to donate — boxes of whole grains, bags of dried beans, cans of vegan soups, jars of nut butters, whatever you have to share. “The Capital Area Food Bank is going to be providing a truck,” says Crosland. Drop off your items at the truck then join the celebration. Check out DC VegFest’s amazing lineup of speakers and enjoy a feast of vegan eats. Bring your dogs, bring your kids — Sticky Fingers’ Doron Petersan will even be on hand for kid-friendly vegan treats. The action takes place at Yards Park and the event is free. What more can you ask for?
Others enacted unprecedented cuts in unemployment insurance, as Stateline previously reported. Against that backdrop, supporters of the cuts see the work requirement as a prime opportunity to trim the rolls. Those possibly affected by ending the waivers comprise less than 5 percent of Americans collecting food stamps. Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty Kansas Dept. of Children and Families Sec. Phyllis Gilmore Republicans see the improving economy as a sign enrollment should be dropping anyway, with cuts to benefits a good way to push some people back into the labor market. Kansas made its case clear, calling the policy “an effort to encourage employment over welfare dependency.” “Employment is the most effective way to escape poverty,” Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said in a statement announcing the move. Those who support ending the waivers also promise robust job placement and training programs to help those affected meet work requirements, which could allow them to keep their benefits. Wisconsin, for example, is spending an additional $33 million on those efforts as its waiver expires. Are cuts premature? Others say the cuts are premature in the face of a weak job market 11 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates measurably higher than the national 7.3 percent jobless rate. The waivers are designed to end once employment improves.