Pending SNAP Cuts Launch Community Challenge - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Pending SNAP Cuts Launch Community Challenge

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by Emily Luxen           

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Just days before more than one million food stamp recipients in Tennessee will see their benefits reduced, local advocates are fighting to bring attention to the cause.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP is scheduled to scale back benefits for recipients Friday when a recession-era increase in benefits expires.

The USDA reports the program serves more than 23 million households or nearly 48 million people.  In Tennessee, 1.3 million people receive the benefits, and the cuts will total $141 million.

As a result of the pending cuts, local advocates have dubbed this week "SNAP Action Week," and local residents are being encouraged to take the "SNAP Challenge."

The challenge consists of spending no more than $4.20 a day on food or $1.40 a meal.  Officials with Community Food Advocates said that is the amount a food stamp recipient has to spend on food.

Participants gathered at Sloco in 12 South Monday evening to share recipes that meet the financial requirements.  They say it has already been a challenge.

"If you have any kind of medical issues that require a special diet, I don't know how you do it," said Lynda Jones, who is taking the SNAP Challenge.  "I would think anyone who has to eat this way is going to pack on the weight quickly."

Jones said food options are limited and meals become monotonous.

Executive Director of Community Food Advocates, Megan Morton, has experienced the same frustrations while planning meals for her family.

"I spent all day Sunday trying to figure out how I was going to live through the week," said Morton.  "People don't have that much time to invest if they are working two jobs and have children. It's been very interesting and eye opening."

SNAP Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Bailey said people are already concerned about the situation and she fears area food banks will also feel the impact of the cuts.

"People are already calling our office asking about additional food resources to feed their families," said Bailey.  "Whether that be real food or other programs to help them pay bills, they don't know how they are going to make ends meet."

The cut comes as lawmakers also are considering billions of dollars of cuts to the overall SNAP program, which has grown substantially in recent years amid the weak economy and high unemployment. The issue is currently up for debate in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.


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