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Food Stamps Cut: Local Families React

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AKRON--Cuts are coming this November to what is commonly called the federal 'food stamp' program; but those cuts are a drop in the bucket to what lawmakers successfully passed in congress on Thursday.

Patricia Divorky, Director of Summit County Children and Family Services, said a temporary financial boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that was passed in 2009 is set to expire.

The extra money was put into the program as part of a stimulus package during the recession.

As of November it is estimated that a family of four on the 'SNAP' or 'food-stamp' program will be getting $36 less each month in assistance.

The latest government statistics from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture show more than 1.8 million Ohioans received more than $24 million in nutrition assistance for the month of June.

Concerned that the number of people receiving 'SNAP' benefits has more than doubled since 2000, republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly passed a bill that would eliminate nearly $40 billion from the program over the next decade.

The bill is estimated to force about four million people from the program by next year.

University of Akron Political Science Instructor Jim Holland said congress appears to also want to address abuse.

"They noted there has to be some abuse here; there has to be some waste here; there has to be some able-bodied people that can work that shouldn't be on the government dole," said Holland.

Angela Render of Akron has worked for more than 20 years to pay her bills, but said with a minimum wage job she also relied on food stamps to help her get by.

"I was a young mother. I had seven kids. I never received a welfare check but food stamps came in handy to help me feed my kids. I never lived in a subsidized house. I lived in houses because I had seven kids so I always spent money paying rent, light, gas and water bills since I lived in Akron," said Render.

"It's very important to have something independent about yourself; don't sit back and wait on a welfare check every month. That just comes once a month when you can work and get a check every week or every two weeks," she added.

Her daughter, Tamika, said she now works two jobs and is going to school to get a good job.

Tamika said she learned to be independent from her mother's example, but understands why they needed food stamps.

"Food stamps, they did come in handy, because she made sure we had a proper meal every day monday through friday, weekends," said Tamika, adding, "She taught us well. We grew up. All of us are in school now trying to be better so we don't have to live on welfare for the rest of our lives."

"There's a large number of people that can, and should, be protected by the government, that need government protection and this bill is really for them," said Holland, "To make sure that they have safeguards to protect them."

Although the bill has passed the House of Representatives, it is expected to fail in the Senate, and President Obama has vowed to veto it.

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