HALETHORPE, MD -
The House version of the Farm Bill would cut as much as $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP over the next decade, and it's estimated one out of 10 Marylanders would lose their food stamps.
The wife of an out-of-work, third generation steelworker and the mother of an autistic child, Tracey Coleman, could be one of them.
"I don't want you to look at me and look at me as somebody on paper. I want you to look at my family and I want you to look at what we're going through, and I want you to see that we are people and we're out there trying," Coleman said.
Cut backs this month cost Marylanders about $5 million in food stamps, which is equivalent to the cost of all of the food distributed by the Maryland Food Bank last year.
"Our network partners, the 975 agencies that we provide food to, are seeing a lot of new faces coming through their doors," Food Bank President & CEO Deborah Flateman said. "One partner told us that his client base had doubled overnight and that it felt like---quote, 'the start of the recession all over again.'"
If the bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill comes down to farm subsidies or food stamps, democratic lawmakers are opposed to the Republicans' bid to cut SNAP.
"They've invented a narrative in which the people receiving this assistance are simply taking advantage of taxpayer dollars and the system, itself, is riddled with fraud," said U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland).
But Cierra Watkins said trying to care for her disabled mother, her three teenage brothers and her two daughters for about four dollars apiece each day is tough enough without cutting it back even more.
"If it wasn't for the program and the school pantry, we just wouldn't eat," Watkins said. "That's basically what it is. We would not eat."