On Thursday, the US House of Representatives forwarded a proposal to the senate to cut $39 billion from the federal food stamp program over ten years.
Oregon leads the nation in dependency on such programs, with as many as one in five residents getting food assistance. Locally, some worry about how food stamp reform might shake out in Oregon.
In 2013 some 810,000 Oregonians use food stamps compared to 443,000 in 2007. If passed into law in its current form, Thursday’s proposal would amount to a five percent cut in the program.
“That’s not much of a cut,” said radio personality Lars Larson. “The president tells us that the economy is doing great now and we have jobs coming back and income coming back. What better time to cut back on food stamps?”
Jon Stubenvoll of the Oregon Food Bank worries where people would go if they’re cut from the program.
“The food bank network across Oregon is already stretched to its limits,” Stubenvoll said. “We have moved more food. We have fed more people than we have in history.”
The bill requires recipients to find jobs and cuts them off after three months.
Supporters of the bill point to fraud like the type uncovered by a KGW story in May. In recent months, police in Salem and Portland have arrested grocery store owners in connection with large food stamp fraud operations.
State officials said those are isolated incidents.
It's hard to say how many Oregon families would lose benefits if the bill becomes law.
Charmain Casteel may have had a glimpse into the future.
“Myself and other family members have needed food stamps at different times in our lives,” Casteel said. “My family member that needed it lost his food stamps. He has two children and they are barely scraping by.”
Although the Congressional proposal is unlikely to become law, food stamp reform is not likely to go away.