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Food Stamp Benefits on the Chopping Block

By Mallory Cooke
By mcooke@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.--Congress could cut thousands of dollars in food stamp benefits.

“The economy's really low right now with jobs and everything and people need to eat,” said Michele Powell, of Jackson.

Powell depends on food stamps to feed her family. “My husband's been out of work for a while and he just started back to work,” she said.

Congress could cut funding for the $80 billion a year program. “Trying to play the catch-up game, then decide to pay a bill or eat,” said Powell. “I mean, I got kids you know and they're little hungry piggies.”

The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are considering bills that would reduce food aid and change the way people qualify for it.

Most people told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News they opposed legislation that would lower benefits. “I mean, I know there might be some that try to abuse it, but there are those people that are really needing that assistance,” said Tonya Pruett.

According to the Department of Human Services, last month more than 21,000 people in Madison County used food stamps. In April 2012, just less than 21,000 used food stamps in Madison County, according to the statistics. Figures show in April 2011, about 19,000 people participated in the monthly program.

“There's a lot of folks that can't afford to feed their children and it's not necessarily their fault,” said Powell. “It's the economy.”

Last month records show the government spent more than $2 million on food stamps in Madison County.

The House panel approved its legislation Wednesday, a day after the Senate committee approved its version.