$5 Billion Cut From Food Stamp Program Worries Many

Food StampsDid you know that on November 1, more than 47 million food stamp recipients will see their benefits permanently reduced? A family of four will lose up to $36 per month in food stamp benefits due to legislation passed by Congress in 2010.

The cuts will result in an increased need for food assistance at local food pantries and soup kitchens, as people look for ways to make sure they have enough food for their families. Food banks across the country, which are already strained for resources, are readying for the increased need.

“We are very concerned about the impact this cut will have on struggling low-income people and our network food banks,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks that serve the entire nation. “We anticipate that, faced with this sudden drop in their monthly food budget, many people who receive SNAP benefits will seek additional help from our food banks and the agencies they serve. Unfortunately, our food banks across the nation continue to be stretched thin in their efforts to meet sustained high need in the wake of the recession.”

In all, about $5 billion in food assistance benefits will be cut in fiscal year 2014 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

The impending cuts will reduce SNAP benefits to about $1.40 per person per meal.

SNAP benefits are already inadequate to last most participants through the month – 90 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed by day 21 of any given month. The new cuts will only make it more difficult for millions of low-income families to get enough to eat.

The reduction in SNAP benefits means that in fiscal year 2014 nearly 1.9 billion meals currently provided by SNAP will disappear, according to a Feeding America analysis. By comparison, Feeding America’s network of more than 200 food banks is projected to provide about 3.3 billion meals in fiscal year 2014 through more than 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding sites. This loss of 1.9 billion meals will equate to more than half of Feeding America’s total output in 2014.

Congress has proposed even deeper cuts to SNAP benefits and eligibility as part of current farm bill negotiations. In September, the House of Representatives approved a bill with $40 billion in SNAP cuts, which would result in over 15 billion lost meals for struggling families over the next ten years.

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