Californians protesting cuts to food stamp program


A small protest outside the federal building in Oakland Thursday highlighted a major crisis looming for more than 47 million Americans. They called it a trick-or-treat protest, saying Congress is up to tricks that means millions of Americans will go without the food they need.

Starting Friday, a temporary hike in food stamp benefits put in place during the recession will go away. In California, more than 4 million people will be impacted and 67 percent will be households with children. A maximum monthly food benefit for a family of four will be cut by about $36. For a single person, it'll be $10 to $11 a month.

Congress is currently debating a new farm bill that includes even deeper cuts and more eligibility restrictions for food stamps that House Republicans are backing. Harmeet Dhillon, the vice chair of the California GOP, says she is sympathetic to those who need the benefits but blames the president for what she considers misplaced economic priorities.

"Our president has spent billions of dollars on alternative energy, paid $600 million to a company for the failed website for the healthcare program, so where are the priorities?" she said.

The drop in benefits is likely to put the squeeze on food banks and emergency pantries like the South Hayward Parish, as more people show up needing to make up for what they can't buy. "It's a tight stretch. The worst case would be instead of giving people food for three days per week, we may only be able to give it for two days per week," Ralph Morales told ABC7 News.

Morales says the parish will tap into its network of congregations, asking for more financial donations and food.

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