New York – A congressional vote being held tomorrow on a plan that would make major cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has many New Yorkers on edge, with almost 35 percent of those affected living in the Empire State.
As previously reported on VIN News, a massive farm bill would continue generous subsidies to farmers but would also cut make drastic cuts to food stamp recipients.
“300,000 out of the 850,000 people affected are residents of New York State,” Alexander Rappaport, executive director of Masbia, told VIN News. “New York is very adversely affected by this.”
The cuts would primarily affect those who live in government subsidized housing and comes after an earlier cut two months ago. Rappaport estimates that since the November reductions, Masbia has seen an upsurge of over 250 percent in the number of diners served.
In an email obtained by VIN News, Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, charges that the proposed reductions affect only sixteen states and that a quarter of those adversely affected by the changes are New York City residents.
NYC Councilman Stephen Levin, who is chair on the General Welfare committee and represents a larger part of the Williamsbrg Orthodox Jewish community, was openly critical of the idea of reducing food stamp benefits.
“The $9 billion in proposed cuts to SNAP benefits would prove to be a disaster for communities across New York City and the entire country,” said Levin. “These benefits are a lifeline to those in need and to make these types of cuts would have an extremely harsh impact.”
Cutting the food stamp program could have other negative consequences, according to Gary Schlesinger, executive board chairman of UJCare.
“Cutting food stamps is going to affect proper nutrition and eating habits of poor people,” observed Schlesinger. “The food stamp program is good because it provides good nutritious foods and cutting that will make people go back to junk food and other unhealthy items.”
Schlesinger also cautioned that the proposed reductions would greatly affect Williamsburg’s Jewish population.
“I don’t think any other Jewish community has the kind of concentrated housing development that we have,” said Schlesinger. “We have a lot of poor people and this will have a huge affect on the lives of the Orthodox Jewish population that is poor and has been living off food stamps all these years.”
According to Rappaport, while the proposed bill would mean a loss of $90 per month, per family, in food stamps, that amount could be considerably higher in the Jewish community which are typically larger than most others.
“We are hoping for an equitable compromise,” said Rappaport. “We can’t take on the burden of the other 50 states. 350,000 out of 800,000? It just isn’t fair to New Yorkers.”