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Senate Committee Wants to Expand Food Stamp Program

WASHINGTON - Congress is considering restoring food stamps to legal immigrants who stopped receiving benefits in the 1996 welfare overhaul, The Associated Press reported today.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected today to approve an expansion of the food stamp program as part of a larger revision of farm and nutrition policy. The food-stamp provisions would cost $6.2 billion over 10 years.

?Ten percent of U.S. households, many with children, still face the possibility that they will not have enough food to eat. This is simply unacceptable,? said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

The legislation, which would become effective immediately, would make all children of immigrants?around 60,000 kids--eligible for food stamps.

The bill would allow all families leaving welfare to keep getting food stamps for up to six months.

The Agriculture Department estimates that one in 10 American households are going hungry or don't have consistent access to adequate food, according to the AP.

In addition, food stamp rolls have fallen from 25.5 million in 1996, when Congress overhauled the welfare system, to 17.6 million this year.

The Bush administration also wants to expand the food-stamp program, and there will be efforts on the Senate floor to go beyond the Senate committee's bill. The panel's senior Republican, Richard Lugar of Indiana, is expected to propose changes costing $10 billion over the decade, with the extra money likely coming out of farm subsidies.

Included in the Senate committee's bill is a pilot program for distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to school children at no charge.
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