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Millions more could get food stamps, report says

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 3 million needy people in big cities could be getting food stamps but don't for a variety of reasons, an anti-hunger group says.

That translates to $2.1 billion in unused food stamps, the Food Research and Action Center said in a report scheduled for release Wednesday.

The group analyzed Census data to see how many people are eligible for food stamps in 25 large cities, then checked county or city data to see how many actually receive them — only 62 percent, or nearly 5.4 million.

The Food Research and Action Center opposes cuts in food stamps, which lawmakers may consider as they trim $3 billion from agriculture programs in coming weeks.

"The first thing Congress should do is not make budget cuts in the program," said Jim Weill, president of the Washington-based group.

Food stamps come in the form of a debit-style card that can be used at supermarkets and other retailers. Who qualifies is determined largely by federal rules, although states have some leeway in deciding.