SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The average American on food stamps gets just more than $30 a week to shop, but Congress is looking at cutting that already tight budget by 20 percent.
Congressman Peter DeFazio is working to prevent those cuts by showing what shopping on food stamps is really like.
DeFazio admits, he doesn’t usually shop on a tight budget.
“It’s a little more casual when I go to the grocery store, because I’m not so worried about the expense,” DeFazio said.
But Monday his funds are fixed to $31.50 because that’s the average weekly allowance for American Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. That already small share could get smaller if proposed cuts from Congress come through–a proposed 20-percent cut to SNAP, which has DeFazio worried.
“Twenty percent of the people are seniors. Half of them are kids, and the majority of the rest are working for low wages to get food stamps, and I sure don’t begrudge them a little bit of help they’re getting,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio shopped with Beverlee Hughes from Food For Lane County, who has plenty of experience with shopping on SNAP.
“Sometimes when you’re on food stamps, you’re looking for quality and calories instead of quality and health. It’s not impossible, but it’s a very tedious job,” Hughes said.
That’s what DeFazio discovered down the aisles of the WinCo supermarket in Springfield.
At checkout, DeFazio realized he spent just barely over his $31.50 budget, and on top of that, decided to cut out another $5 representing Congress’ proposed 20-percent deduction.
“There goes the yogurt. There goes a bunch of protein with the nuts, down to two apples for the week. That’s a little light,” DeFazio said.
It was time consuming and complicated to shop with restrictions, and he says he’s sure eating on this budget will be just as tough. It’s a learning experience he thinks anyone should have to have before suggesting a slash to SNAP.
“There’s a lot of things I think members of Congress should do. This is definitely one of them,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio thinks instead of cutting SNAP, Congress should look at cutting outdated programs like the Freedom to Farm Act.