Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The one in five South Carolinians who rely on food stamps could be getting less help after the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would take away billions from the program.
"When 20 percent of the people in our state live in poverty, it's not the time to cut essential services like food," said Sue Berkowitz, Director of SC Appleseed Legal Justice.
A September study released by the Food Research and Action Center says South Carolina is the fourth worst in the country for households without children that experience a food hardship.
"SNAP is such a critical and important program for people who are facing hunger issues that we're going to be taking people who aren't working or who want to work but can't find a job right now and put them at greater risk," Berkowitz said.
The bill would cut $39 billion from the program over the next decade. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reports 3 million people would lose their benefits altogether.
"In my district, the average household income among SNAP recipients is less than $15,000," said Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC). "If these low-income people lose access to nutrition assistance, money that they would otherwise spend on other needs would be spent instead on food, taking customers away from other businesses that are vital to our economic vitality."
Clyburn was the only member of the South Carolina delegation to vote against the proposed cuts.
"Restoring our country's greatness begins with putting Americans back to work," said Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC). "Under the Obama Administration, government programs have ballooned to a point of widespread exploitation, which hurts American families when they need help most. By passing this week's nutrition bill, the House is assuring that our safety nets remain in place for the neediest citizens and rids of wasteful abuse of hard-earned taxpayer dollars."
Berkowitz sides with Clyburn and argues if the reductions pass, business in the Palmetto State will also pay a price. She says unemployment numbers won't improve in a hungry state.
"It could really hurt their progress in becoming a good employee and a qualified employee," Berkowitz said. "We're actually devastated here that vote came out the way it did."