Local ministry responds to bill that would cut food stamps

A measure passed in the House of Representatives could have a far reaching impact on millions of families who depend on food stamps. House Republicans pushed a bill through Thursday that would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program by $39 billion over the next ten years. That's nearly four billion a year.

Republican leaders say the program had grown out of control, and this bill would safeguard against loopholes. However, not a single Democrat supported the bill. Democrats say the cuts would cause millions of people to sink into poverty.

A spokesperson at a local outreach ministry talked to me about the impact on the grassroots level.

"We have a clothes closet. We do food once a week. We do clothes twice," said Mary Jones, co-director at Greater Birmingham Ministries.

Every Friday, fifty families got to GBM a first-come first-serve basis to receive bags of food. "Two cans of baked beans, maybe three cans of string beans, three cans of corn. Maybe a bag of rice," said Jones.

Jones says more than half of the families who come to the facility each Friday depend on food stamps.{} She's used to depend on food stamps herself. She says the decision made in the house to cut some $39 billion in food stamps is disheartening. "People who make these decisions about our lives, and these policies about our lives, don't know how we live," she said.

Still, house Republicans argue the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program has doubled since 2008, costing nearly $80 billion a year. They say this bill ensures work requirements for food stamp recipients, which will help families get back on their feet.

Jones worries this measure would only{} put more of a strain on already-strapped organizations like hers. "Astronomical . We are having a hard time already trying to put food in a bag to give to people. We'll have people showing up here that we can't help. And it's hard to say no to a person," she said.

The bill still has to pass in the senate, which is Democratic-led. And President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill.