This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
Congress is gearing up to cut food stamp benefits in order to fund a new child nutrition bill—a move that Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, called "cutting the budget from kids at home to pay for kids in school." In an interview with The Washington Independent earlier this week, Berg described how hard the cuts are going to affect low-income families. TWI‘s Anne Lowrey writes:
The cut in food stamps means that one month, a family will receive a set amount of money, about $4.50 per person per day. The next month, they will get less. In his week eating according to the SNAP budget, Berg shopped for the first three days as if he received full benefits. For the second two, he shopped as if he received cut benefits. The result? Less food, or less healthy food.
But progressives from the First Lady to the Center for Science in the Public Interest are standing behind the cuts because they’ll help pay for a child nutrition bill. Though they argue the reduction to food stamp benefits isn’t really a cut, the removal of a temporary 2009 boost from the stimulus bill to those benefits to pre-empt rises in food costs that never ended up being an issue, Berg sees it otherwise:
That claim is really preposterous and offensive. The Center for Science in the Public interest, they’re progressive, but they have put that idea forward. If they had a cost of living increase and wage increases over five years, but then we returned them to the salary that they had five years ago, my guess is that they would see that as a cut, rather than a return to the baseline.
I caught up with Berg and asked why he thinks Congress wants to make these cuts now, when so many people are unemployed and depend on food stamps, and what can be done to oppose it.
"They’re good people with good intentions who do good work," Berg says of the people pushing for the child nutrition bill at the expense of food stamps. "I just don’t think they really speak to or deal with enough low-income people to understand what this is going to mean in their lives."