Bay Area families worry about the future of SNAP benefits after President Trump proposes cuts

Posted at 3:35 AM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 07:09:11-04

"I am a stay-at-home mom, my husband works, he has a full-time job," said Sarah. She was standing, pushing her youngest in a stroller, in a line at a Food Pantry in Ruskin when we met her.

"We get a good chunk of SNAP benefits, but it doesn't last for six kids at all," said Sarah.

"The predominant amount of people that are receiving food assistance are people that we would want to take care of in our community," said Thomas Mantz, the Executive Director of Feeding Tampa Bay.

In Florida, in 2016, close to 60% of SNAP recipients are in families with kids, just like Sarah's.

"This isn't a long term welfare gift," explained Mantz.

He said SNAP is a "supplement" to an overall family food budget. The average family of four can qualify for $240 a month, which breaks down to about $1.40 per meal.

"No family of four that I am aware of can live on $240 a month for their full grocery bill." Mantz added.

Sarah said cuts would make her family go back to the basics.

"We would suffer ... definitely suffer food wise ... we've done that before. A whole week of PB&J for lunch, dinner. It's happened," said Sarah. "Most of the time it's me and my husband eating the PB&J and letting the kids get everything else."

"Cutting SNAP pushes families further into debt, said Mantz. "It pushes families further into a situation that is unmanageable for them."

Mantz explained that he thinks cuts will ultimately drive these very people back into food banks.

President Trump's proposal would add more work requirements for people who receive SNAP benefits. It would also shift 25% of the SNAP funding to individual states. In Florida, that could be close to $1.3 billion a year.

According to the White House, the cuts would give states incentives to improve the SNAP program and save money to taxpayers.