Military families may face a $3k food bill hike
February 25th, 2014
10:15 AM ET
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A military family could see grocery bills go up by $3,000 a year under the latest Pentagon budget proposal.

Grocery stores for military families, also called commissaries, will be able to offer fewer savings over the next three years as the Department of Defense would slash most of the taxpayer subsidies that prop up these stores, according to the plan released Monday.

Each year, $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars go to 178 commissaries nationwide and 67 located overseas. The Department of Defense plans to slash $1 billion of those subsidies, mostly affecting the U.S. stores.
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Military food stamp use on the rise
February 17th, 2014
10:00 AM ET
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More soldiers used food stamps to buy milk, cheese, meat and bread at military grocers last year.

Food stamp redemption at military grocers has been rising steadily since the beginning of the recession in 2008. Nearly $104 million worth of food stamps was redeemed at military commissaries in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

"I'm amazed, but there's a very real need," said Thomas Greer, spokesman for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that helps soldiers on the financial brink nationwide.
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The bill that will hurt hungry Americans
February 6th, 2014
12:05 AM ET
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Editor's note: John Stoehr is managing editor of the Washington Spectator, an independent political periodical published monthly by The Public Concern Foundation.

House Republicans pushed through a trillion-dollar farm bill - approved by the Senate Tuesday - that will cut food stamps by $8 billion over the next decade and reduce food allotments for more than 850,000 households by around $90 a month.

The measure passed despite opposition from Tea Party Republicans who were seeking even more savage cuts. If the Republican Party hopes to revive the Bush-era idea of "compassionate conservatism," this isn't the way to do it.

The bill was the culmination of a three-year battle over food stamps, also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. House Democrats who supported the measure said they compromised. This version, they said, was better than previous ones; Tea Party Republicans had wanted a 5% cut, not 1%. The White House has signaled that President Obama will sign the bill.
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February 4th, 2014
11:00 AM ET
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It may be the most overlooked mega-bill of the past 12 months.

After taking a 72-22 leap through a Senate test vote Monday, the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill is poised for final passage Tuesday.

While it's called the Farm Bill, in truth, it's more of a food bill. It sets five years of eating and farming policy in the United States, including what we grow, what you know about your dinner and how much government spends in the process. It cuts the food stamp program and increases spending on farmers markets. Whatever you think of Congress, this is a bill that deserves some attention.

Here's five lesser-known things the farm bill could mean to you:
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In wake of SNAP cuts, food banks fall short
January 30th, 2014
05:15 PM ET
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Last Saturday, the Loaves & Fishes food pantry in New Haven, Conn., ran out of food.

Run by the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James, the pantry has been pushed to the brink from recent decisions in Washington that resulted in cuts to food stamps and jobless benefits for the unemployed.

For most of last year, the little food pantry was feeding an average of 225 families a week. Then, starting in November, more families started showing up. That's when Congress failed to extend a recession-era bump in food stamps, which cut $11 less from each recipient's monthly grocery money.

The pantry is now feeding 300 families. And things could get worse.
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Farm bill may snip $90 a month from food stamps
January 27th, 2014
11:30 PM ET
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A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Monday agreed to a deal on a farm bill that would end direct subsidies to farms in favor of crop insurance.

The deal could trim as much as $90 a month from food stamps for 850,000 recipients.

The farm bill would last five years and needs to pass both chambers and then be signed by the president.
The bill could be passed before the spring planting season. That's significant because farmers need to know early how it might affect prices and what to expect for their corn, wheat or tobacco yields.

The bill changes the current agricultural subsidy system. It ends direct payments to farmers for planting crops and replaces it with a revamped, beefed-up crop insurance program.
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Brazile: A nation hungry for change
November 29th, 2013
03:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pot in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 16,000 earlier this month, headlines throughout the country trumpeted the milestone as a sign of recovery for the economy.

Away from Wall Street, among the working poor in America's suburbs, small towns and larger metropolitan areas, the trumpets of a thriving economy do not sound. What we too often hear in the back streets and even on some main streets is the drumbeat of the desperate, or the plaintive strings of hope postponed.
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November 27th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

I love Thanksgiving. I love everything about it: gathering three generations around the table, pausing for a moment with heads bowed to thank God for our abundant blessings, carrying a tradition across the centuries, watching my beloved Texas Longhorns play football. I even love clanging the pots and scraping the plates afterward. And I especially love the eating. We are traditionalists in my family, so it's turkey and stuffing, and three kinds of pie.

I am hoping this year to add one more item to the menu: a small serving of conscience. For as we gorge ourselves, Congress is contemplating drastic cuts in food aid for the least of our brethren. Food stamps, formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for the Poor, or SNAP, help poor people eat - simple as that.
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How do you stretch your food dollars?
November 18th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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Cuts to SNAP benefits in November 2013 have left 47 million people with $36 a month less to spend on food. That cut (based on a family of four) is a 5% reduction to an already stretched budget.

The February 2014 presidential approval of the Farm Bill entails an $8 billion cut from SNAP over the next 10 years. This means 850,000 families will see an average $90 monthly drop in their food budget.

Millions of others who don't qualify for benefits, but who still struggle to feed their families, are finding the aisles of their local food banks more crowded with fellow shoppers than ever before.

We asked our readers, via our comments and Facebook, to share their strategies for making the most of their limited food funds. Here's what they had to say.
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