Durbin to Farm Bill Negotiators: Now Is Not the Time to Further Cut Food Assistance for Hard-Working Illinoisans

Nearly 350,000 Illinois seniors and 886,000 children rely on SNAP - numbers that are projected to drop in 2014 as the economy continues to grow

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – On the floor of the Senate, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today said the claims that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as ‘food stamps’, is growing out of control are false and that now is not the time to cut this important assistance for hard-working Illinoisans and their families.


“The recent economic downturn caused hard-working people to lose their jobs.  SNAP is an important safety net that caught those families while they worked to get back on their feet,” said Durbin.  “The economy is recovering and the number of new people enrolling in SNAP is leveling off.  In fact, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the number of people receiving SNAP will begin to fall in 2014 as more and more people find employment.” 


On November 1, 2013, a temporary boost in SNAP benefits that was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires and the nearly 48 million Americans – including 900,000 veterans and 22 million children – who receive food assistance under SNAP will see a decrease in their benefits.  SNAP benefits will decrease by a total of $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 with monthly SNAP benefits dropping by an average of $10 per person in a household.  


“Food stamps meet a basic human need.  This isn’t the place we should be looking for cuts,” Durbin continued.  “On Friday, over 2 million Illinoisans – including 886,000 children and 349,000 seniors and persons with disabilities – are going to have a harder time putting food on the table for themselves and their families.  The House has proposed a farm bill that would cut an additional $40 billion from SNAP by kicking the most vulnerable out of the program.  That is not an acceptable way to reduce the deficit and that is not who we are as a nation.  The farm bill negotiators should reject these cuts.”


Yesterday afternoon, Durbin met with the CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Kate Maehr, to discuss the importance of protecting funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as congressional negotiators begin to work on a compromise between two different versions of the Farm Bill as part of a House-Senate Conference Committee.  He is scheduled to speak with the Illinois Hunger Coalition tomorrow about the same issue.


Earlier this week, Durbin joined 38 of his Senate colleagues in urging the negotiators to prevent drastic cuts to the program which helps 2.1 million Illinoisans put food on the table for themselves and their families.  Last month, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would cut almost $40 billion from food assistance programs over 10 years and institute changes in eligibility that would cause 280,000 children nationwide to lose free school meals.  In contrast, this past June, the Senate passed a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill that would protect nutrition programs for families in need while saving $4 billion through reforms of the current the SNAP program.