At first, Emmons donated her locally grown, chemical-free fruits and vegetables to churches and food pantries. But she soon started selling them herself in the neighborhoods that need them the most, for what she estimates is about half the price of organic produce sold in stores. With her 1,000-kilowatt smile and boundless energy, some might call Emmons a goodwill ambassador for healthy eating. She’d claim that her produce — from cucumbers and okra to watermelon and blueberries — can sell itself, but her enthusiasm certainly doesn’t hurt. “Everyone’s been excited about the string beans,” she says to one customer. “How are you going make yours?” She strives to make her food as affordable as possible. People are also able to use their food stamps to purchase anything she sells, including seeds and seedlings so they can grow the food themselves. Emmons and her volunteers distribute recipe cards, too, and urge customers to attend the group’s free cooking demonstrations and canning classes. It’s all part of their mission to help people take control over what they are eating and improve their health. And customers seem hungry for all that Emmons and her group are offering. “We’ve been really, really thrilled about the response from the community,” Emmons said. “Even as early as January of this year, they were calling, asking, ‘When are you coming back out?’ ” Brandy Bolin says she was a junk-food junkie for much of her life, until she was diagnosed with diabetes six months ago. She immediately vowed to make eating healthy a priority for herself and her 11-year-old daughter. But because she is unemployed, waiting for her disability to come through, it hasn’t always been easy. “We try to eat the best we can, but we often have to cut corners,” said Bolin, 38.
The figures are for June, the last month for which preliminary data were available, according to the USDA. Monthly food stamp usage has risen more than 18 percent over the past four fiscal years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The proposed reduction would remove 76 million meals a year from New York City alone. Where would we get that?, Purvis said in a telephone interview from a soup kitchen in Harlem. Thats more meals than we provide in a year. Able-bodied Adults Republicans have said their measure would cut spending by tightening eligibility requirements including on able-bodied adults younger than 55 who dont have dependents. Backers of the bill say they want to curb waste and abuse. I think a lot of our members want to finally make real reforms to the food-stamp program, said Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican and senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the programs. The goal is to ensure that while you have a safety net you shouldnt be giving welfare benefits to people who are able-bodied and capable of getting a job who just choose to continue to get food stamps when they can actually go and work. Spending on domestic nutrition assistance programs would reach $764 billion over 10 years if current policies continue, according to a June report on farm bill spending from the Congressional Research Service . The report cites the non-partisan CBO, which gauges the cost of legislation for U.S. lawmakers. The CBO hasnt publicly released an estimate for the food-aid bill. End Benefits The food-assistance bill would end benefits to as many as 6 million low-income people, according to an August report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities , a Washington-based group that studies the governments impact on low- and moderate-income families. The group wrote that it relied on reports and public comments from Republicans describing the measure. The bills text hasnt been released.