April 21, 2014

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Food stamp stimulus money expires, benefits cut 5.5 percent

Martin Digby, a driver at Second Harvest Food Bank, unloads bread into the warehouse in Lorain on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Martin Digby, a driver at Second Harvest Food Bank, unloads bread into the warehouse in Lorain on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Those who need it most will have to make due with less.

At midnight, federal taxpayer stimulus money that was approved in 2009 for food stamps in response to the recession expired. The expiration cuts monthly distributions by 5.5 percent.

For a mother with two children, the reduction means about $29 less per month. For a family of four, it’s a cut of about $36 a month, to $632.

The cuts will increase pressure on food banks and food pantries, which have seen record demand since the recession and tepid recovery, according to Juliana Chase-Morefield, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. About 44,000 of the 1.8 million Ohioans receiving food stamps are in Lorain County. In June, 34,000 people used food pantries served by Second Harvest, she said.

Many are food-stamp recipients who use pantries when their food stamps run out. Chase-Morefield, who has been involved with food assistance since 1998, said anxiety among those running food banks and pantries is the highest she’s seen.

“We don’t have endless supplies of food,” Chase-Morefield said. “We wish we did.”

Chase-Morefield said for some, the cuts may mean choosing between whether their children eat or rent is paid. About half those using food stamps are children and about 41 percent work or are in households where someone works, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the program.

Vicky Shaw and Aaron, Olson, volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank, sort through donations.

Vicky Shaw and Aaron Olson, volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank, sort through donations.

The reduction comes in the wake of cuts in food stamp eligibility and funding. In January, able-bodied people between 18 and 50 without children not working 20 hours per week or enrolled in a job training program will be cut off from food stamps in 72 counties, including Lorain County.

In September, the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed a bill cutting food stamps by $39 billion between 2014 and 2023. The 5-percent cut would reduce the number of food-stamp recipients from 48 million to 34 million by 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

One of those voting yes was U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, who represents a portion of Lorain County. Gibbs said he expects a compromise bill being negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee will be completed by year’s end.

The Democratic-majority Senate bill cut food stamps $4 billion. Gibbs said he expects the final cut will be between $10 billion and $20 billion. “The people who need it are going to get it and not people that are abusing the system,” he said.

While Gibb’s cited “quite a few reports of abuse,” the USDA said just 1 percent of benefits involve fraud, down from about 4 percent in 1993. Gibbs said food stamp cuts reduce the deficit predicted by CBO to drop to $642 billion this year, the lowest since 2008. Nonetheless, the cutting has received bipartisan criticism.

“There seems to be a war on the poor,” Gov. John Kasich told The New York Times on Monday. “If you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, called the cuts “unforgivable” saying they will hit children and the elderly particularly hard.

“I can’t think of a more cruel act than to take food away from people,” said Kaptur, who represents Lorain. “It’s as low as it gets.”

Kaptur and Chase-Morefieldurged Republicans who voted for cuts to visit a food pantry to better understand clients’ needs.

“It sounds easy on paper to cut money out of food stamps,” Chase-Morefield said. “But these aren’t numbers. These are real people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • Rear_View

    I think ALL our tax payer dollars earmarked for ‘FOOD-STAMPS’ should go to ‘FOOD PANTRIES’ where the PARENT and CHILDREN can go to and pick of their allotted FOOD!!! A majority of the people I see making purchases with ‘FOOD-STAMPS’ could benefit from some nutritional advise on feeding themselves and their children!!! This would also cut out much of the ABUSE in the FOOD-STAMP system!!! And if your an ‘ABLE-BODIED-PERSON’ between 18 and 50 and DON’T work AT LEAST PART-TIME… so sorry but YOUR OFF THE TAX PAYER PAYROLL!!! With our luck however, they’ll simply worm their way onto TAX PAYER FUNDED DISABILITY by claiming some NEUROLOGICAL disorder!!! You know, a SCHIZOPHRENIC ALCOHOLIC / DRUG ADDICT!!! It may sound harsh but it’s true…

    • SniperFire

      Yes. Bread and cheese should be distributed from the back of trucks for the needy. All they need.

    • Phil Blank

      I wonder how many of those that go to the pantry in their nice new cars, are selling the stuff they get on-line and at flea markets?

  • Concerned_2880

    Wow family of four will now gets $632 dollars a month that is crazy I’m a family of three and spend no more then $250 dollars a month and me and my family never go hungry we even have steaks twice a month. No wonder why our country is broke they give people who aren’t responsible a lot of money for food who spend it on junk food, pop, and or sell it for cash to get drug money while someone like me who is conservative and pays for his own food can have no problem feeding this family with less than half of that.

    • wahoo99

      Family of five and spend about $420.00. Think food stamp money should go to program that helps devise menu planning, food prep and cooking, and other food classes, go to class get the card,

    • SniperFire

      Coke and Pepsi – alone – make over $8 billion a year off of food stamps.

      The reason this communism is permitted to continue is that there is big money in it. As long as we continue to borrow a trillion a year from the unborn grandkids, that is.

    • Earl K.

      They don’t cook–simple as that. You can always spot the welfare people because, invariably, their carts will be filled with tons of high fructose drinks and highly processed, microwaveable-type foods.

      I remember after hurricane sandy when the demorats in NY were whining to Chuck Shumer, after only the second day, that they had no food. I looked in my cupboards and pantry and figured that I cold survive for a minimum of 3 weeks, based simply upon what I had laying around. Not to say that the meals would be gourmet, especially during the last week or so, but hey; we’d survive.

      I was a latch-key kid and learned to prepare meals when I was a child.

  • Daniel J Moore

    To Marcy Kaptur…….The age group is 18-50 years old. How does that affect the elderly? If your 18 – 50 years old WITH children this does not affect you. Again Ms. Kaptur, how does this affect children?

    • Flavia Martens

      There’s two separate cuts. One is the one that affects 18-50 year olds, the other affects everyone on food stamps. It’s the second cut that affects children and the elderly.

  • bpbatista

    Food stamps has been one of Obama’s unalloyed successes. We are spending more money for more people on food stamps then ever before in our history.

    How’s that hopeychangey stuff workin’ for ya?

    • Bob Owens

      As we give away $90 Billion in crop subsidies and insurance to corporate farmers to NOT grow crops.

  • Joe Smith

    People who are on stamps and are able should be planting gardens and freezing and canning the food.

    • mdr12372

      gardening is not cheap. I do a small garden every year and the costs(soil, plants, seeds, water bill) are nothing to sneeze at.

      • stillsleepyeyes

        Really……..I spent 10 dollars on a flat……………fed two families….and still had enough to can…………….

      • Joe Smith

        Cheaper than buying the food by a long shot

    • Melissa Merrill Snyder

      I think we ALL need to grow more of our own food through cooperative efforts. And we need to be teaching it as part of our school curriculum and summer camps. Teaching basic nutrition through health classes and encouraging cooking classes for all (even during the summer programs) would be a huge benefit for all.

      • Joe Smith

        Great idea, teaching canning would be a good skill to add to that too. our ancestors lived this way for hundreds of years and did fine without any food stamps.

        I grow a fair amount of food and even grow the herbs to season it with, kind of fun and saves a lot of money and you get better food than you do from the stores.

    • Beth

      Hard to do in a rented house…

      • stillsleepyeyes

        can be done in pots…….and buckets…………………..

      • Joe Smith

        I never had a landlord that minded me putting in a garden as long as I planted grass seed when I moved out

  • SniperFire

    Food stamps roles have doubled to 47 million over the last 10 years. Not mentioning in the story but I am sure was just an oversight. The handout program are out of control in America, and anyone attempting to reign it in is labeled a hater.

    • Paul Facinelli

      You’re not hateful, Sniper-man, just ignorant. The reason that 47 million more people are on food stamps over the last 10 years is because they qualify for food stamps. The last 10 years take in the period from 2008 until now when we have been dealing with the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression with seriously high unemployment. Therefore, with so many more people out of work, they qualify for food stamps. Would you have them starve? Or their children starve? Notice I’m not bringing politics into this. How this could have been fixed or who’s at fault is irrelevant. People need to eat. And there’s this: 42 percent of the people receiving food stamps live in homes where an adult has a full-time job. The average age of a fast food worker is now 29. It’s just that Mickey D’s and the other fast food joints, as well as Wal-Mart, don’t pay their employees enough to allow them to feed their families without food stamps. In a galling irony, we taxpayers, through the food stamp program, are helping to “pay” these “working poor” so that the Walton heirs and the Kroc heirs can have more millions and billions. Sort of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?

      • bpbatista

        What a ringing endorsement of Obama/Democrat economic policy! Under those policies we have “seriously high unemployment” and more people are on food stamps than ever before while the number of people who have left the workforce is at an all time high of 90 million.

        The next brilliant Obama/Dem policy idea is to raise the minimum wage to $15 causing Mickey D’s and Wal-Mart to hire even fewer workers thereby throwing more people onto food stamps. Now THAT would be galling.

        • SniperFire

          7 out of 8 jobs added under the Owebama Administration have been part-time jobs. hopey changey.

      • Joe Smith

        “Walton heirs and the Kroc heirs can have more millions and billions. Sort of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?”

        Would you be more warm and fuzzy if those 2.5 million people that employed by Walmart and McDonalds were out of work if it wasn’t for these families that started these businesses? not to mention all the people who supply the items they sell and the truckers that deliver them, the fuel sold to the truckers, the farmers who produce the beef etc.

        Its a huge chain of people making a living because of these people you spit on.

        • bpbatista

          Don’t forget all of the people with 401(k) or pension funds invested in McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

  • stop ur whining

    we enable these people. I work very hard for my money and am tired of seeing people on welfare buying junk food while talking on their blue tooth. welfare abuse is a serious problem bc we allow it. we are like drug dealers keeping addicts supplied with fresh drugs. there is a reason signs at parks say dont feed the animals. we have allowed unproductive junk to sit on welfare and breed generations of deadbeats that only perpetuate the cycle. welfare reform is a necessity. just a few suggestions:

    1) MUST pass a drug test
    2) limit to what you can purchase with your ebt card. milk, bread, cheese, spam, etc.
    3) the more you breed on welfare, the less money you get
    4) felons do not qualify
    5) if while on welfare you have 3 or more kids you get sterilized
    6) after 18 months on welfare your benefits are suspended for 12 months.

    these people need a boot in the can and need to be forced to work. people on welfare have no pride, no character, no self respect. i for one would rather be DEAD then receive government assistance. These degenerates need to learn that they have put themselves in this situation and need to be held accountable.

    • seanmacnair

      You can’t buy non-food items with EBT. I don’t think Spam is real food.

  • Crystal Lynn

    It’s the elderly and disabled I feel sorry for. I do not feel sorry for unwed mothers with multiple children by multiple men. Such women spent years laying on their backs conceiving children they had no business creating because they cannot support them off a regular paying job. Solutions for such women and their kids would be food pantries and social workers intervening. If such women spent as much time working and/or furthering their education as what they do sleeping around, conceiving too many children, this country would be in much better shape than what it is today.

    • Daniel J Moore

      I believe you missed the part about it not affecting adults with children. The writer of the this article and Ms. Kaptur have deceived you.

      • Tom

        what we’re being deceived about is not that there are more people gaming the system, which may or may not be true but it’s about more and more corporations aren’t paying any taxes. Profits are higher than ever but our country goes further in debt and is cutting social programs… http://tinyurl.com/n8vtw9x

    • Bob Owens

      And 900K VETERANS for all you patriots.

  • levtrotsky

    The increase in people ‘ gaming ‘ the system, be it EBT, SSDI, Welfare, Workmen’s Comp. Public Housing, etc.. water-down the funds for the truly needy. Throwing more money at these programs is not a solution, eliminating the ‘gamers ‘ would be a better action.

  • stop ur whining

    maybe the rumbling in their tummy will inspire them to go work. maybe hearing their child’s cries of hunger will inspire them to go to work.

  • Tom
  • Joe Sandor

    Do these folks want some cheese with their whine? This is the reduction of the Obama Stimulus Money, not a reduction in Food Stamps. As with the teachers, the Stimulus money ends. Now it is time for Food Stamp Stimulus Money. Get a job, even part-time, to make up for the loss. (Can you tell there is no pity or sympathy here?)

  • oldruss

    ” Those who need it most will have to do with less.” So wrote Evan Goodenow of The Chronicle Telegram.

    However, increasing numbers of Food Stamp (SNAP) users sell their Food Stamps on sites like Craig’s List. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/02/16/investigation-uncovers-people-selling-taxpayer-funded-food-stamps/

    And, “The percentage of Americans selling their food stamps back to stores for cash has increased by 30 percent over the past several years, according to a new Agriculture Department study.” http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/18/feds-more-americans-selling-their-food-stamps-for-cash/

  • Linda Groves

    Maybe now these people on food stamps will start buying FOOD instead of pop ,chips, cookies, chip dip, candy ,pre -cooked foods, high end meats, ect. Most people on welfare do not work, even part time, YET they think nothing of sucking the life out of the working people!!They sit at home doing nothing!! Learn how to Cook Real Food!!!, NOT microvewave everything!!! MY Mother worked 3-4 jobs at a time to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on our table, with NO HELP from WELFARE!!!!,and there were 4 kids she supported!!! These people need to get off their lazy ass’s and do what ever I takes to take care of their own familys!!

    • Ramon Ramirez

      God Bless your mom.,just a question,What did your father did?

  • GreatRedeemer

    Don’t forget manufacturers
    of Redbull,Monster and rock Star have found ways to get their beverages labeled under USDA rules as nutritious. That one word makes them eligible for purchase using EBT.

    Food stamps are billion dollar revenue sources.

  • Phil Blank

    Why your stamps were cut. Idiots like this!

    New Jersey man admits stealing $2.5 million in food stamp benefits

    October 30, 2013 9:19 PM

    NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) – A New Jersey grocery store manager pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to stealing more than $2.5 million from the government in food stamp benefits, federal prosecutors said.

    Alexander Vargas, 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez in Camden to a scheme in which he overcharged the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) for purchases and split the proceeds with customers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said.
    ~~
    Vargas faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also agreed to forfeit $22,273 found on him when he was arrested in May 2013 and agreed to forfeit another $2.98 million under a money judgment. He has been in custody since, and is scheduled for sentencing February 5, 2014.

    • Ramon Ramirez

      In washington state a doctor have his wife as a tenant in his house collecting food stamp.

  • AEB93

    When I hear the word “food stamps” I always remember going to a small gas station by my work, (where I work 50+ hours to support myself), I purchased a monster energy drink, a larger sized one. The cashier told he, “If you grab the smaller can you can use your food stamps to purchase this”. I told him I don’t receive food stamps, but I asked him how that’s possible. He explained that because it says “nutritional facts” on the can that’s smaller it can be purchased with the food stamps, but the larger can says “supplemental facts” so it cannot. What a disgrace. So my tax dollars can fund an adult buying themselves a energy drink they don’t even need because they don’t work, at least not enough to be tired enough to spend the only money they have for THEIR CHILDREN on an energy drink.

  • Beth

    I guess that these people will have to cut their budgets by 5.5%, that means that stores that take SNAP will have to cut their budgets by 5.5% since that money will not be coming in. Expect these stores to cut staffing hours and salaries.

    The peasants have no bead. Let them eat cake…right?

  • Nick25

    The recipients can cut back on their cigarettes, beer, and casino trip- they’ll have to economize like the rest of us WORKING stiffs.

    I wish the whole thing was cut.

  • infinitefancies

    “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

    I’m ashamed of all the negative comments on this site that lack compassion for the many, many good people who need our compassion and help.

    Instead of complaining and making false assumptions, why not visit a food bank or volunteer at a social service center, or do some real research about the plight of the poor.

    What would Jesus do?

    • Pablo Jones

      Jesus would probably tell the people that are able to work to go out an find a job and work for what they need. Maybe even take some nets and fishing poles and go to the lake and fish.

    • Pablo Jones

      Proverbs 6: “So do this, my son, to free yourself,
      since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
      Go—to the point of exhaustion—[a]
      and give your neighbor no rest!
      4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,
      no slumber to your eyelids.
      5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
      like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

      6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
      consider its ways and be wise!
      7 It has no commander,
      no overseer or ruler,
      8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
      and gathers its food at harvest.

      9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
      When will you get up from your sleep?
      10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
      a little folding of the hands to rest—
      11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
      and scarcity like an armed man.”

    • Beth

      Well if you take a look at the bible you see Jesus didn’t really care poor. ‘There will always be poor among you’ from the gospel of John. The story about a woman washing his feet with perfume and when it was pointed out that the money could have been spent on the poor, he doesn’t care, he wants the perfume on his feet rather than feeding the poor.

      However, you are right. People should be helping their fellow man without judgement. When I was a christian I read a book called What every Church Member Should know About Poverty. It is a wonderful book and helped me understand how classes and poverty shape our thinking.

      • stargazer2012

        OMG lady!! You really missed the point on that Bible passage!! Good grief!! Maybe if you would have gone to your pastor and had him explain to you what that passage really and truly meant, you would still be a christian!

        • Beth

          . :-) Do you really think one passage from a book could turn you away from your faith? No. Same with me. It was more than one thing, more than one passage. I’ve read the Bible and the apologetics to those tricky verses and they didn’t wash for me.
          The point is that you don’t need to have a religion to be nice to people.

    • Conservator440

      He would not do what the government does–drag people into a program then drop the floor out from under them. He would honor their humanity not make them dependent beings who rely on government. This is the ugly underside of letting the government run the entire show–they fail those who are dependent on them. Much as Esau–sold their birthright for an EBT card.

  • dayna chatham

    What bothers me is all you see about on tv is feed the children and families in other countries but it seems like here its a dam sin to get food stamps.I see nothing wrong with it , it feeds our kids and families here in our country,so before you judge, put yourself in some peoples shoes and maybe some people will get a clue.

  • Brandy Lynn

    Ha come on, 1% of recipients are fraud. it’s wayyyyyy more than that. More like 75%!!!! I don’t think people should be allowed food stamps AND also go to a food pantry. For a family of four, $632 a month is WAY more than enough money for food, so i really don’t want to hear any freaking crying about losing $36 of FREE money anyway!