DENVER (CBS4) – The Trump administration wants to change who qualifies for SNAP benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. The USDA is considering changes that would remove more than 3 million Americans from the program.

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While Colorado offices distributing SNAP benefits are still working to figure out exactly how many people would be impacted by the potential changes, local food pantry’s say there’s no doubt it will hurt their operations.

Joyce Neufeld is the Executive Director of Community Ministry, a pantry serving southwest Denver for more than 50 years.

“If people come here, it’s because they need to be here. It’s not because they want to be here no one wants to go to a food bank,” she said.

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Neufeld says some of those who come in already utilize SNAP benefits and still come up short in making ends meet.

Others are just outside of qualifying and depend on the access to pantries; that number she says will grow if potential changes are made.

“As we see more people we aren’t going to be able to give them as much as we have right now we try and give them a week or more of food.” She said.

The USDA, which oversees the SNAP program, revealed their proposal on Tuesday.

In a phone interview with reporters, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke about changes he believes would strengthen the program.

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“At the USDA it’s our job to make sure that people who truly need food assistance receive what they are entitled to, but what we found states are taking advantage of loop holes that allowed people to receive the snap benefits who otherwise wouldn’t qualify,” he said.

That loophole, Purdue says allows some states to skirt eligibility guidelines that have to do with income and assets.

Local agencies see it differently, and current eligibility opens the door for recipients to factor in other expenses when applying for assistance.

CBS4’s Karen Morfitt interviews Joyce Neufeld. (credit: CBS)

“Rent is huge. The cost of medical bills… if you do not have Medicaid the deductibles are so high and then you have your kids and they have their needs,” Neufeld said.

The Colorado Department of Human services is planning to host a phone conference with county offices from across the state Thursday afternoon. They hope to pinpoint the exact number of Coloradans who could potentially lose their eligibility.

The public has a 60-day comment period to weigh in on the proposed changes. You can also read the proposed change in its entirety.

Karen Morfitt

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