Kirsten Gillibrand Makes Emotional Plea To Preserve Food Stamps

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took to the Senate floor Wednesday in an emotional bid to stave off $4.5 billion in cuts to programs that feed the hungry in this year's farm bill.

The New York Democrat was the lone member of the Senate Agriculture Committee to vote against the farm bill, which aims to save around $24 billion over 10 years, largely by reducing food aid and replacing farmers' subsidies with a crop insurance program.

Gillibrand offered an amendment to restore the aid, which comes from the "heat and eat" program in which some states grant automatic food-stamp eligibility to people who can't afford to heat their homes.

"Under this bill, families in New York that are already struggling will lose about $90 a month for food that goes onto their tables," Gillibrand said. The senator recalled one mother describing how her son would scrounge extra food from school lunches so the family could have something for dinner before they finally qualified for food stamps.

"Ninety dollars a month may not sound like a lot to some people. But I can tell you that if you're a parent who's trying to protect your children and feed them good, wholesome, nutritious food, it means everything in the world," said Gillibrand, noting that in New York state alone, some 300,000 people would lose enough food aid to leave them hungry one week a month.

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