Bill that would cut food stamp program: 'I pray that it doesn't pass'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A bill passing through Congress calls for cutting $40 billion over the next decade. While supporters say it will trim a ballooning federal budget, some worry it could hurt hundreds of thousands of Idahoans who say they need the program to make ends meet.

One Treasure Valley woman traveled to Washington, D.C. to share her personal story about going hungry with lawmakers and lobby against the bill.

Dawn Phipps is a nurse who says she fell on hard times when the company she worked for made staff cuts. So to feed her son until she found work again, she says she used food stamps, or SNAP.

Phipps was asked by a national lobbyist group to tell her story in D.C. In doing so, she got to speak with Idaho lawmakers about the bill.

"I gave them my old SNAP card that I used to use and said 'here, let's pretend this is yours, and you have to feed your family for a day on this. You have $3. Plan your day. Oh wait a minute! Wait a minute! Congress just voted the SNAP bill down. Now you have $2.70 to feed your same family. Feed them now.' And Mike Crapo actually went 'Whoa!'" Phipps described.

She explained that she often went hungry just so her son could eat and says she's against the bill because of the effect it could have on children.

"If these families drop off because of the new regulations with SNAP," she said, "Their children are not going to get that breakfast and lunch anymore."

The bill could eliminate free school meals for tens of thousands of low-income kids whose parents wouldn't be eligible for food aid anymore. Others who rely on programs like Meals on Wheels could also be affected.

Phipps says the cuts would be most devastating to those who are most vulnerable.

"I pray that it doesn't pass," she said, "If anything, for the children and the elderly. They rely on this."

Republicans who favor the bill say argue that the would be helpful to families because it would promote self sufficiency by requiring most people who want to get food aid to work at least 20 hours a week.