Hunger Advocates Worry About Possible SNAP Changes
OKLAHOMA CITY - The White House says the changes to the food stamps program will save money, but hunger advocates are worried it will make things harder.
The changes would affect folks on SNAP benefits and in Oklahoma, that's close to 985,000 Oklahomans; mostly children and the elderly.
Right now, SNAP recipients get a monthly amount of about $120 per person to use at grocery stores on specific foods of their choice. The changes outlined in the budget proposal would instead send families a box of food with things like cereal, shelf stable milk and canned meat. The plan doesn't include any fresh ingredients.
Advocates working to end hunger say the change simply doesn't make much sense.
"You're taking benefits away from families, you're taking money out of local economies and instead, you're giving to big package or big box stores that are going to supply the boxes and then relying on government to somehow distribute that across America to the right place and the right time," said Chris Bernard, executive director of Hunger Free Oklahoma.
Then there's the impact on the economy and local food banks. SNAP dollars account for millions in sales for local grocery stores. Money that would go away if the government began sending out boxes.
At local food banks, there are fears of skyrocketing demand. A stark reality for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma which already serves up more than a million meals a week.
The White House said the plan could save taxpayers close to $129 million over the next 10 years although details on how it would work haven't been released.