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As Congress mulls SNAP, food stamp use jumps in Minnesota counties

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Since the recession, food stamp use in Minnesota has increased dramatically in a number of counties, the Star Tribune reports.

Food stamp use has shot up especially in suburban and rural counties, the newspaper reports. Usage is up 183 percent in Scott County since 2007, and it's up 102 percent in Anoka County. Usage leapt 77 percent in Hennepin County and 71 percent in Ramsey County, the Star Tribune reports.

More than 554,000 Minnesotans received federal food assistance, which is roughly one out of every 10 residents, a state 2012 report noted. A third are children, and about a quarter are elderly or disabled adults.

A majority of recipients are part of families in which at least one adult earns a paycheck – which flies in the face of stereotypes that food stamp recipients are lazy and not working, the Star Tribune notes.

The numbers take on a heightened relevance this week as a committee of House and Senate lawmakers engage in high-stakes negotiations over a broad farm bill that also aims to establish a budget for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which many people refer to as food stamps. It's considered the first big budget battle for lawmakers since the showdown over the government shutdown and debt ceiling.

Three Minnesota lawmakers – Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz – are key players in the farm bill debate, MinnPost notes.

Many Republicans, fearing the program has ballooned too far, are arguing for a $40 billion cut to SNAP, which would amount to cuts to roughly 32,000 Minnesotans.

The GOP-controlled U.S. House approved the measure last month, with Minnesota lawmakers voting along party lines, with Republicans supporting the cuts and Democrats opposing them.

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