Cutting SNAP Benefits Would Cost WV Economy

West Virginia Public News Service - Some state lawmakers want to make it harder for single adults to collect SNAP benefits. Critics say that would cost West Virginia's economy tens of millions of dollars a year. A plan at the legislature would make it more difficult for adults without dependents or disabilities to collect from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. Read

But since SNAP is a federal program, that could cost the state about $70 million a year, much of it spent at local grocery stores and farmers markets. The Rev. Brian O'Donnell, executive secretary of the Catholic Conference of West Virginia, helps administer the state's Catholic charities.

"Why would you turn off this flow of monies? No one is banking SNAP benefits," says O'Donnell. "They spend them, because they desperately need them."

During the Great Recession when unemployment was at its peak, the federal government opened SNAP to adults without dependents or disabilities. As the unemployment rate has fallen in other states, they have closed that window. But Sean O'Leary, senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy, notes the unemployment rate is still high here, especially for those with less education.

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