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Is it time to shrink a growing food stamp program?

A sign in a market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps in New York City.

Rep. Frank Lucas, (R-OK) chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says the House bill seeks to eliminate a policy called "broad-based categorical eligibility," which has been in place since the mid-1990s. The policy is designed to make eligible for food stamps some who might otherwise not have been, due to savings or income exceeding the poverty line.

"The idea is to make sure that people are relying on what they have first, before turning to government assistance," said Rachel Sheffield, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research think tank.

Supporters of the policy say it benefits low-income individuals and families.

"At the state level, there's no ideology involved in this," said Jim Weill, President of the non-profit Food Research and Action Center. "Almost everybody recognizes that this is an important way to meet the basic needs of struggling families."

 

About the author

Noel King is a reporter for Marketplace's Wealth and Poverty desk.

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