A deadline is approaching for U.S. lawmakers to approve a farm bill that includes changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The House and Senate have each approved their own versions of the bill.
The House version calls for stricter work requirements for a portion of the 40 million people who rely on SNAP. Lawmakers said it will keep people from abusing the program.
Meanwhile, the Senate version has very minimal changes and does not mention work requirements. Critics said it doesn’t go far enough to decrease fraud.
Susan Goodell, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger CEO, said she is in support of the Senate version, partly because Texas already has “incredibly strong work requirements.”
“The changes to the Senate farm bill are really minimal, from the perspective of the food bank. It supports good agricultural benefits for our farmers and it supports the people in need of this community,” Goodell said.
El Pasoans Food Bank is the main source for food pantries and shelters in the El Paso area.
Goodell said passage of the House bill could leave 125,000 people without SNAP benefits, leaving them to go to food pantries for assistance.
“These needs would fall on the food bank and our 120 soup kitchens, shelters and pantries through out the region. Frankly, there’s no way charities can fill the gap left by the government of that size,” Goodell said.
While Goodell is new to the area in her role with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, she said she has worked closely on issues involving hunger and poverty in America for more than a decade.
“I can tell say in my experience, particularly here in Texas, we do not see people asking for SNAP benefits who are not truly in need,” Goodell said.
She said the process to get food through SNAP is extensive and people are vetted by the government.