Valley’s welfare recipients worry about possible food stamp cuts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Programs designed to help people in need could be facing massive cuts in Washington.

One program expected to be on the chopping block in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget is food stamps.

Across the country, about 43 million people get help buying food. That number is the lowest it has been in six years.

Sources told the Associated Press that the food stamp cuts are several times larger than those attempted by House Republicans a few years back and comprise the bulk of a 10-year, $274 billion proposal that’s labeled as welfare reform.

With cuts to the program on the table, some Valley residents say they’re worried about how they’ll feed their families.

“My family kind of depends on welfare at this point, as much as I hate to say it,” said Youngstown resident Andrew Herrmann.

The 26 year old said he doesn’t like feeling dependent on the government, but without food stamps, he doesn’t know how he’ll buy food for his wife and daughter.

President Trump’s budget blueprints are expected to cut $193 million over the next 10 years — that’s 25 percent of the program.

The cuts are to help pay for tax cuts which President Trump hopes will jump-start the economy.

Hermann said this could mean he has to make a tough choice — pay the rent or buy food for his family. He said he has a job, but it’s not paying enough to support his wife and daughter, adding that it’s hard to find a good-paying job in Youngstown without a college education.

Others at the Department of Job and Family Services on Monday were reluctant to speak on camera. One man said the stigma about having food stamps makes it uncomfortable to talk about.

Director Bob Bush said that’s the case for many of the welfare recipients.

“There’s this fallacy that no one wants to work and everyone wants to be on quote-unquote welfare. But when you get down there and talk to those folks, they’d rather not be there,” he said.

The Department gave out $5.4 million locally through SNAP in March. They have about 60,000 active cases, many with more than one person in the household.

“Our unemployment rate has stabilized, but when you look at the type of jobs out there, it’s not like the old steel mill days,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get a job that supports the family and all that impacts our caseload.”

Details on President Trump’s budget will not be publicly released until Tuesday. In the end, it will be up to the Republican-led House and Senate to decide on these proposed cuts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.