Lawmakers Plan to Crackdown on Food Stamp Fraud - KTUL.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma - News, Weather & Sports

Lawmakers Plan to Crackdown on Food Stamp Fraud

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Oklahoma lawmakers say they are trying to limit abuse in a program that feeds the hungry.   Food stamps, or the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is there for families that need it.  But lawmakers say they are working with social workers to make changes.

There are currently federal and state laws that make sharing and stealing food stamps a felony.  The goal of the program is to help families or individuals who are struggling.  The Department of Human Services  has strict guidelines that give recipients three chances before they are removed from the program.

Senate bill 887 would lengthen prison sentences for offenders, according Senator David Holt, who co-authored the bill.  In many cases, he says it would remove offenders from the program and force them to repay what they have stolen. 

Social workers say the program is important and so is enforcing the rules, to prevent people from selling or sharing food benefits.

"Basically it provides a safety net so families can have access to healthy and nutritious food.  Now some families can even use them at some farmers markets. So the intent is that families and children will have access to food that will nourish them," said Sonya Lynn Parnell, of the Department of Human Services.

The food stamp program covers a variety of food including cookies and chips. What it doesn't cover are foods already cooked and non edible items

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