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860,000 to see food stamp benefits cut Friday

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:15:31 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 01 2013 02:11:26 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. -

Hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin will see cuts to their food stamp amounts starting Friday. The change comes as a federal boost to the supplemental nutritional assistance program expires.

More than 860,000 people in Wisconsin use the FoodShare program, or SNAP, with more than 50,000 in Dane County alone. All of those people will see cuts to benefits that help them put food on the table.

One of those is Thelia Baker, of Madison, who was at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church food pantry on Madison's southwest side Thursday. She's getting free food there to make ends meet since she's spent what benefits she gets this month. Baker has two kids, and her family of four gets about $370 in FoodShare benefits a month, which will be cut by $40 starting Friday.

"You hate to lose any of them, but what can you do?" said Baker. "You hate to lose any of them, because you can always use them all."

The benefits are being cut because Congress boosted the amount available to FoodShare users in the Recovery Act. They did not renew that increase, so the amount expires Friday.

One in seven people in Wisconsin are on food stamps, and 40 percent of those are children.

"We're reducing food assistance for children, and I think we need to ask ourselves if this is the time in the economy and the time where families are where they need to be in order to do that," said Tamarine Cornelius, with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.

Unless Congress acts to change the measure, Baker's check will go down. She said she'll get by, but she's worried about others.

"Everybody doesn't get the same thing, and there's a lot of people out there getting less than me," said Baker. "If they are getting cut enough, they're going to be mad."

WCCF said this will also have an impact on local communities, as this money gets spent at local grocery stores.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, has proposed a bill in Congress to restore the funding, but it's unclear whether it would have a future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

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