A customer pays for fruit at a market. (credit: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A customer pays for fruit at a market. (credit: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) –  A North Texas Congressman has been going hungry in Washington, D.C.  Congressman Marc Veasey, who represents parts of Dallas and Tarrant Counties, has only been eating on the amount of money allowed through the SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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Veasey is one of two Texas democrats and dozens of other members of Congress who last week shopped at the grocery store on the SNAP allowance of $1.50 a meal, or $4.50 a day.

One day Veasey said he bought, “A package of hot dogs, some wheat bread, not whole-wheat bread, and I bought a can of beans. And I had one plum.”

On Tuesday the House begins debating a new five-year Farm Bill that currently includes a proposal for $20 billion worth of cuts to the SNAP program – a move that would affect the benefits of some 47 million Americans, nearly half of whom are children.

Veasey (D-TX 33rd District) said the people receiving SNAP are the poorest of the poor, and the threshold for them should not be lowered further. When looking t some of the totals from his grocery receipts Veasey said, “Of course, I was shopping here in the nation’s capitol and prices up here are a little bit more. But even in the metroplex it would still be hard to make it on $4.50 a day.”
As it stands, eighty-three percent of all SNAP beneficiaries are children, seniors or disabled adults. Veasey said these individuals, even more so than others, are those most in need of maintaining a healthy diet. “As you know, healthcare costs in this country continue to rise. A large portion of that is due to diabetes, heart disease and things like that and I can tell you that living on $4.50 a day makes it very tough to buy anything nutritious.”

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Veasey said the amounts people receive under SNAP should be increased, instead of trimmed.  Under the current guidelines a single parent of two cannot make more than $24,000 a year to qualify.

While billions of dollars in food assistance is on the chopping block, Veasey pointed out that the same Farm Bill proposal includes subsidies for the farm industry. “These are large agri-businesses that are receiving billions of dollars in tax subsidies, and we can’t find enough money so people can eat.”

The food stamp reductions in the House Farm Bill would leave some 1.8 million families completely ineligible for SNAP and also cut spending on school meal programs.

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