Leaders in the fight against hunger in Oklahoma said the president’s proposed cuts to food stamps would have broad consequences in the state.
President Trump wants to cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding $17 billion next year. Hunger Free Oklahoma’s Chris Bernard said SNAP benefits account for around $1 billion in spending in the state each year — an impact felt even more in areas with high participation.
"If you start to cut that out, you’re really talking about undermining local business owners and smaller grocery stores, both in rural areas and also underserved communities within the metropolitan area," Bernard said.
Trump is also calling for some SNAP benefits families can spend as they need to be replaced with food boxes.
"No fresh fruits, no vegetables, no fresh meat. Everything canned and prepackaged, and somehow distribute those out to a population that, frankly, folks in poverty tend to be transient," Bernard said. "It can be hard to get the boxes, and you’re really looking at the potential for a lot of … huge mistakes, delays and inefficiencies."
Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma Executive Director Eileen Bradshaw said organizations like hers are looking at a one-two punch from Washington.
"We just had the amendment to the tax code that disincentivized charitable giving for a swath of the population. That could affect the programs in the private sector that are addressing the hunger issue, and now you’re taking the public dollars out," Bradshaw said.
Roughly 600,000 Oklahomans receive SNAP benefits, including nearly 40,000 seniors.