Outside the Box


Mostly elderly, children, would lose food aid in Senate budget provision

Posted May 18

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, speaks to reporters.

The elderly and children account for more than half of the nearly 133,000 needy North Carolinians who would be booted off of federal food assistance as a result of an obscure provision in the budget bill passed last week by the state Senate.

Curiously, the cut wouldn’t save the state a dime since the program is entirely funded by the federal government.

More than 15 percent – 20,395 -- of those who would be denied assistance qualify as elderly (60 or older) while 39 percent – 51,236 -- are children (18 and younger).

During the depths of the recession, North Carolina expanded eligibility for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as the law allowed. The state extended coverage to households earning between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, said the cut was needed because of “tremendous growth that we’ve seen in our food stamp program.” However, according to the most recent figures from the federal government, the number of North Carolinians getting food stamps in the last year has dropped 9 percent – from 1.6 million in 2016 to 1.4 million as of February.

-- Seth Effron


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