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Shutdown Slows Farm Bill
Written By: Tanja Rekhi
ELMIRA -- (WENY) While lawmakers on Capitol Hill face off over budget negotiations, minimal attention is being given to the Farm Bill. A one year extension expired on October 1st-- the same day the government shutdown.
A major sticking point has been the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
In Elmira, Catholic Charities is bringing this issue of hunger to the forefront. Their Empty Bowls luncheon has been running for 8 years straight. It's where they raise a bulk of their money to help people struggling with poverty-- providing food, shelter and life skills.
"Last year we served about 5,000 people and they're not the normal people you would expect. They're working people with families they are really trying to make ends meet," says Lindsay Winters, Director of Development for Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler.
Over 300 people came to today's luncheon at $30 a bowl, but programs like this only supplement government programs like SNAP.
"We're already seeing a huge number of people accessing SNAP, but also needing some supplement at the end of the month, we do that fill now," says Winters. "I could only imagine it would go up drastically with out SNAP in place."
In Chemung County over 13,000 people live in poverty. Amanda Domineske was one of them. She's a single mom with two sons.
"I definitely don't think that SNAP should be cut because I know myself, if it wasn't for that program my children and I wouldn't have been able to have food that we needed," says Domineske. "I was going to school while I was raising them, so it would have been very hard to afford what they needed."
She put herself through school and now works for Arnot Health.
"I went through a lot of struggles. If it wasn't for the programs that we have in our community and my friends and family, I wouldn't have made it to where I'm at today," Domineske.
And it's not just the government shutdown and Farm bill debate threatening food stamps. Stimulus money for SNAP benefits is set to expire next month, and the house of representatives recently voted to cut food assistance by $39 billion over ten years.