Clark County and many other agricultural areas around the country are bracing themselves for the possibility of major cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The House and Senate voted recently to cut funding for food stamps as part of major changes to the farm bill.
Joel Potts, of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, says SNAP is important to many families who count on the benefit to put food on the table, particularly in rural, farm areas.
"When you get a situation where there's no certainty about the future of the program that really gets people nervous. So I do think that it's natural that it's going to affect the agricultural communities. They are going to see it first, they are going to feel it first, feel it the most," he said.
The Farm Bill authorizes funding for most federal farm and food policies. Every five years, Congress renews it and the last one was passed in 2008. Potts says that food stamp recipients should be concerned but the chances of the benefit disappearing are slim.
"What Congress does is continue to operate under what is referred to as a continuing resolution, which means we'll operate the program the same as we did last year or until we can finally come up with an agreement with what the new parameters of the program will be. The beginning of the federal fiscal year which is October 1, is where funding operates on this federal fiscal cycle.
The next big date to me is going to be that October 1. Whatever actions they are going to take some decision is going to have to be made one way or another between now and October 1," he said.
Potts says that over 47 million people in the United States depend on nutritional programs.That’s 1 in every 7 Americans who on average receive a little over $133 a month to help pay for groceries.