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Oklahoma food bank director warns against food stamp cuts

Testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee, Rodney Bivens, who runs Oklahoma's largest food bank, says more people would go hungry if food stamp benefits are cut because private charities can't make up the difference.
by Chris Casteel Published: May 9, 2012
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/articleid/3673748/1/pictures/1715333">Photo - Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, prepares to testify Tuesday before a U.S. House subcommittee in Washington. Photo by Chris Casteel, The Oklahoman
Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, prepares to testify Tuesday before a U.S. House subcommittee in Washington. Photo by Chris Casteel, The Oklahoman

Stacy Dean, with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the subcommittee on Tuesday that the House cuts would knock 2 million people off the food stamp rolls and reduce the benefits for 44 million others. About 23 million children are among the recipients, she said.

Bivens said, “The Regional Food Bank provides enough food each week to feed 90,000 people and nearly half of them are children. Children do not ask to be hungry or live in poverty. It is due to circumstances beyond their control.”

Lucas defended the reductions last month, saying they could be made by tightening rules that have allowed states to boost benefits for recipients and broaden eligibility beyond Congress' intent. And he said his committees' recommendations would not prevent families that qualify for assistance from receiving benefits.

The House cuts, engineered by the Republican majority, are not likely to be considered by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

Tuesday, Lucas asked Bivens about donations from the food industry. Bivens said the industry had become more efficient to save money and did not have the surpluses to donate as before.

Lucas also asked about fraud in the program. Two experts — Dean and Ron Haskins, with the Brookings Institution — said the fraud rate in the program is at an all-time low.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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