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Farm Bill Could Leave Ohio Hungry

October 29, 2007

Cleveland, OH – A Farm Bill compromise being considered by the U.S. Senate could spell a hungry future for Ohio, which is seeing a rising demand for food stamps and emergency assistance from food banks. An important portion of the Farm Bill, known as the "Nutrition Title," funds programs such as food stamps and emergency food relief for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, with the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, says the Senate's current version of the bill doesn't boost monthly food stamp benefits, at a time when many Ohio families find their food stamp allotments stretched thin each month.

"Food stamps do not last the entire month for most families. Food stamps are exhausted generally around the second to third week of each month."

Hamler-Fugitt says there is some good news: The current Farm Bill compromise would increase funding for the federal commodity program, which provides some emergency food relief. But she explains that's not enough to meet growing demand, especially in states like Ohio with many unemployed or underemployed citizens.

"Hunger is a growing problem in our state, and in the United States. The emergency food assistance network will continue to try to end hunger, but we really cannot do this alone. We need the leadership of Congress."

She says one plan, supported by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown as the bill was being debated in the Senate Agriculture Committee, would have boosted food stamp benefits and also included more seniors on low and/or fixed incomes. However, it was not included in the committee's final proposal.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - OH