Advocates for the poor and often hungry in the US say that problems for the nation's needy could intensify if the agriculture department bows to pressure from congress to reduce food-assistance schemes.
Politicians are looking at ways to stimulate the economy and balance the federal budget with a proposed $4.2bn cut in its food-stamps programme that currently assists 45 million people.
According to a recent US government report, some 15 per cent of Americans are relying on food stamps. That is a 50 per cent jump from last year at a cost of $65bn per year.
Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York.