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Annual turkey photo op sparks frustration over food assistance cuts

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An annual Thanksgiving-week photo op at the state Capitol that features a Minnesota turkey headed for the chopping block turned into a reflection on cuts to federal food assistance.

Minnesota Public Radio reports a 20-pound turkey from Badger, Minn. that will eventually feed about 80 people at the St. Paul Salvation Army attended Monday's event where the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association presented an $11,500 donation to local food shelves.

"Luckily, we have a state that has been committed to finding ways to feed low income people, and we all work hard to move forward on those needs," Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions, an organization working to end hunger in Minnesota.

More than half a million Minnesotans saw a reduction in government food assistance at the beginning Nov. 1 after the expiration of a temporary boost in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Now, more cuts to the $80 billion food stamp program are on the table as lawmakers in Washington negotiate the farm bill. On Monday, Congress left for the Thanksgiving holiday without making any progress.

Dayton described the uncertainty around the farm bill as "cruel," the Star Tribune reports.

"They're taking away from the neediest people in the nation," Dayton said. "These federal cuts are going to be beyond our capability, or any state's capability to absorb and make up the difference."

The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association will try to do their part this holiday season by donating enough turkeys to feed 12,500 people, according to the newspaper.

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