MA Gov. Deval Patrick says he is worried about push in Congress to cut food stamps

June 18, 2013

By Dan Ring, The Republican

With new statistics showing a heavy reliance on food stamps in cities such as Holyoke and Springfield, Gov. Deval L. Patricksaid he is concerned about a move in Congress to cut the assistance program for low-income families including tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts.

“I’m worried about the future of the program,” Patrick told The Republican. “I am worried about the fact that so many people need the program. And that has to do with the bottom falling out of the global economy and our climbing out of that, slowly but surely.”

Patrick, a two-term Democrat, said his family received food stamps when he was a child growing up in Chicago.

“It’s a modest benefit,” Patrick said. “It’s not a way to live lavishly. It’s just a way to sustain yourself until you can get up on your own feet. The reason the program utilization has expanded in the last several years is because more people have needed them and we’re doing a better job of finding where those people are and who they are.”

After some astronomical growth in the program over the past decade in Western Massachusetts and across the country, Congress is considering a new farm bill that would reduce spending for food stamps.

In Massachusetts, leaders of the state House of Representatives are pushing an anti-fraud bill that would require photos on state electronic benefit cards for welfare and food-stamp recipients.

U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, said he expects the House of Representatives in Washington to vote on the farm bill this week. McGovern said he will attempt to amend the bill to prevent cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the name since 2008 for the food stamp program.

McGovern told The Republican that it is “a rotten thing” to take food away from poor people. He said the farm bill in the Republican-controlled House is more generous to global agricultural businesses than to people who depend on food stamps.

“Here is my line in the sand,” said McGovern, who is among House members in Washington who are drawing attention to the proposed cuts by living off $31.50 for 7 days, a typical benefit from food stamps. “I am not going to vote for a farm bill that makes more people in this country hungry.”

McGovern said the proposed cuts would eliminate food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people.

 

Read the rest at The Republican here.