PATCHOGUE - Nearly 190,000 people on Long Island rely on food stamps, but a new bill in Congress could cut funding to the program by $40 billion over the next 10 years.
Congress is considering cuts to the Farm Bill that include major cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Pastor Jim Ryan, of the Lighthouse Mission, says a cut to SNAP would have a dangerous effect on residents who rely on food stamps.
"For many, it is something that without it, I don't know how they would be able to eat," he says.
Patchogue resident Barbara Nitti has been unemployed since the Great Recession began more than four years ago. She says she depends on SNAP to feed her family and supplements her food by volunteering at the Lighthouse Mission.
Many House Republicans say SNAP is growing out of control, but the Nassau/Suffolk Health & Welfare Council's Gwen O'Shea says the number of recipients has grown only because of the severity of the economic recession. In 2007, there were about 68,000 on food stamps, but by June of this year the number in Nassau and Suffolk had grown to nearly 188,000.
O'Shea says a family of four gets about $350 a month on SNAP. She says Congress is proposing to cut that benefit by 10 percent later this year and considerably more later.
The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill as early as next week.