House wants to cut food stamps

July 16, 2011 at 9:51 PM

WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- With one in seven Americans on food stamps, a Republican House of Representatives proposal would cut the program's funding by one-fifth, food advocates say.

Currently, about 45 million Americans receive food stamps -- the numbers soared during the recession -- with spending on the program spiking from $35 billion in 2008 to $65 billion last year, The Economist reports.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, estimates only two-thirds of those who are eligible have signed up and receive an average benefit is $133 a month. The maximum, for an individual with no income, is $200. Those with incomes of 130 percent of the poverty level or less are eligible -- about one-third get at least some income from wages, food advocates say.

The food stamp program is a federal entitlement program -- available to all Americans who meet the eligibility criteria irrespective -- but the Republican proposal would redesign the program into "block grants" to the states, which would receive a fixed amount to spend each year no matter what the demand, The Economist says.

About half of the recipients are children, 8 percent are elderly, 41 percent have incomes half the poverty level or less and 18 percent have no income at all. The average family has only $101 in savings or valuables, The Economist says.

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