JEFFERSON CITY - Food banks across the state say a plan before Congress this week to cut food stamps would starve millions of Missouri recipients.
The U.S. House is scheduled to debate Wednesday [Sept. 18] its version of the food stamps program. The bill would cut $40 billion from food stamp funding over the next 10 years.
Food stamps provide some financial assistance in purchasing groceries.
Missouri Food Bank Association Director Scott Baker said Missouri food banks and pantries won't be able to make up for the food that would be lost if the cuts occur.
"You're talking about a significant task that the non-profit sector is not prepared to handle at this stage," Baker said.
Ozarks Food Harvest CEO Bart Brown said food banks like his are already struggling, and further costs could be the final straw.
"Food banks like Ozarks Food Harvest have stepped up to the plate as far as filling gaps caused by the recession," Brown said. "But there's a limit to how much we can step up and how much our donors can step."
Some supporters of the bill argue it would help fix long histories of abuse within the food stamp system. State Rep. Sue Allen, R-St. Louis County, is a member of the House Social Services Committee. She said food stamp cuts could allow funding to go towards other essential services.
A US Department of Agriculture study released last week ranked Missouri as having the second highest rate of food insecurity in the nation.
Almost one in six Missouri residents received food stamps in May 2013, according to the most recent data from the State Department of Social Services.