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Food Stamp program could lose billions in funding

Time is running out for Congress to act on the Farm Bill set to expire September 30.  Hanging in the balance, the food stamp program could lose billions of dollars in funding cuts.

Local Food Stamp Recipients: Escambia County has 63,551,  Santa Rosa County has 18,890,  Okaloosa County 22,512.

The monthly average amount of money given for food stamps in Florida is just over $134 dollars.

It's been a challenging time for people on food stamps.  In November, benefits will be reduced when Recovery Act money runs out.  Now the House of Representatives in Congress are looking at even more cuts to the food stamp program.

As Kay Canfield looks in her half empty refrigerator, she utters, "That's it, (laughs) until I can get to the store".

Canfield lives on a fixed income through Social Security.  In order to keep food in her refrigerator and pantry, she really depends on the $160 a month she receives in food stamps.

"It's just not enough because towards the end of the month I'm out, I have to be out for a week or two until I get more food stamps" said Canfield.

In an effort to reduce government spending, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in May, which asks for $4.1 billion in cuts to food stamps over the next 10 years.
The House of Representatives are expected to vote on its version of the bill that includes $20 to $40 billion dollars in cuts to food stamps.
The House version of the bill focuses on tougher eligibility requirements to qualify for food stamps to reduce fraud and spending, which could kick 4 to 6 million people out of the food stamp program.   

Amber Christopher is a single mother with twins.  She says she stood in line at the food stamp office in Pensacola for nearly an hour.  Christopher says she hates to see funding reduced, but would like people taking advantage of the food stamp program eliminated.

"Weed out the ones that don't need it and give it to the ones that do because there are a lot of able bodies out there that are able to work and they choose not to" said Amber Christopher, Seeking Food Stamps.

"If you're just abusing them, I think that's where they should cut them and don't cut them to people living on fixed income because it's hard" said Canfield.

If Congress does not pass a farm bill by September 30, food stamp recipients are not expected to see any changes to their benefit allotment, and the program is expected to operate as it is considered a mandatory program.

However, the food stamp program is still expected to lose about 5-billion dollars in the 2014 fiscal year due to Recovery Act money running out.