Iowa Senator Tom Harkin introduced a bill today (Thursday) that would offer emergency food assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Harkin says the bill provides more money and faster benefits for families who lost homes or jobs due to last week’s massive storm. He says Katrina “shredded the very fabric of everyday life for millions of Americans,” many of whom have been cut off from the federal assistance upon which they rely. Harkin says “They don’t have their electronic benefits cards so we’ve gotta’ get them a provision so they can get food stamps immediately.” Also, many people have had to double-up in households, which might violate certain rules for getting food stamps. Harkin wants those rules thrown out, temporarily. The Democrat says his legislation would increase the amount of food stamp payments to the average household by 30 to 35-dollars a month. He says the essence of what he’s trying to do is break down the “administrative nightmares” and government red tape that otherwise might delay hurricane survivors from getting much-needed federal help. Harkin says “In the midst of this crisis, we must act and act now. This emergency legislation will provide critical food assistance and will make it easier for the victims of hurricane Katrina to receive these benefits without delay.” The bill would also provide more money to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children or “WIC,” and would pump more commodities into local food banks and food pantries, which is especially critical where normal food retail outlets have been destroyed.
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