Thousands could lose SNAP benefits in region

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ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) Foodlink in Rochester is bracing for thousands who could lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

President Donald Trump and members of his administration said Wednesday it is projecting to end some SNAP benefits for some 700,000 Americans.

Trump is saying that some Americans receiving privileges through SNAP do not need the benefits due to lower unemployment and an improved economy. 

SNAP provides food to 36 million Americans. Under current rules, able-bodied adults between 18 and 49 must work 80 hours a month. If they don’t, they can only receive three months of food benefits. States like New York have waived these requirements to accommodate high unemployment or a shortage of jobs. But the Trump administration will make those waivers harder to get.

Julie Burke, Foodlink’s director of development, says the new rules will do nothing to help the unemployed get back to work. Many people who rely on snap face barriers to employment.

“It could be health-related, it could be criminal record, it could be addiction, it could be a lot of different things,” says Burke.

“(SNAP) is basically a safety net for individuals who are not receiving the food and services they need,” she adds. “Locally it’s a really important program.”

Burke says they cover ten counties, and last year distributed 19 million pounds of food. SNAP helps thousands in the local area. Some SNAP recipients we spoke to shared their thoughts on the Trump administration’s move. 

“That’s terrible! There’s a lot of people out there who need it. I need that, I won’t survive,” says Karen Gath.

One SNAP recipient, who did not want to be identified, says there are over 700,000 people taking advantage of SNAP, so the Trump administration’s move might be needed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to the proposed SNAP cuts saying, “This rule change is cold, heartless and despicable, and sadly unsurprising from a federal administration that gives tax cuts and other giveaways to millionaires, billionaires and corporations, while continuing to chip away at the social safety net for the most vulnerable among us.”

For Burke, she says the impact on these potential cuts is yet to be seen.  But their purpose will remain.

“Our mission is to leverage that power of food to build healthy communities and help end hunger,” says Burke.

Foodlink is always looking for volunteers. To learn more, click here.

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