As Holidays Near, Food Stamp Recipients Face Cut

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Food Stamps Decrease (In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 photo, Jennifer Donald whose family receives money from the Supplemental Nut
Matt Rourke/APPhiladelphia resident Jennifer Donald receives assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, to help feed her children.
By Allison Linn

Millions of food stamp recipients can expect to see their benefits reduced beginning in November -- and that could end up being just the beginning of deeper cuts to the food stamp program.

The modern-day food stamp plan, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is scheduled to scale back benefits for all recipients next month because a recession-era boost in benefits is expiring.

The cut comes as lawmakers also are considering billions of dollars of cuts to the overall SNAP program, which has grown substantially in recent years amid the weak economy and high unemployment.

The program is now serving more than 23 million households, or nearly 48 million people, according to the most recent government data through June. The average monthly benefit is about $275 per household, according to the USDA.

The exact reduction that families will see beginning Nov. 1 depends on the recipients' situation, but a family of four with no changes in circumstance will receive $36 less per month, according to the USDA.

Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said her analysis found that the change will mean that the average benefit will go from about $1.50 per person, per meal each month to about $1.40 per person, per meal.

"For those of us who spend $1.70 a day on a latte this doesn't seem like a big change, but it does kind of really highlight the millions of families living on an extremely modest food budget," she said.

Others are less worried about the immediate cuts. Parke Wilde, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, said that in real dollars, the cuts brings the program's aid levels back in line with where they were in the mid-2000s, before benefits were boosted as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

"That's neither great nor terrible," Wilde said.

He said the bigger issue is the debate in Congress over whether, and how much, the SNAP program could be cut in years to come.
The House of Representatives passed a bill in mid-September that would eliminate about $39 billion form the SNAP budget over 10 years, while the Senate has approved a bill that makes much smaller cuts to the program.

The final decision could result in some recipients getting dropped from the program completely at a time when many are still recovering from the effects of the deep recession, he said.

"We have a very spare cash-based safety net and we rely a lot on food stamps to give people the resources they need to avoid hunger," Wilde said.

The SNAP program has become a last resort for people like Angela Phillips, 44, who never thought that she would be in a position where she would have to accept food stamps.

Phillips, who is divorced with three kids, worked for years as a paralegal and executive assistant, at one point making about $45,000 a year. Then the economy turned, and she suffered a string of job losses along with some health issues related to a shoulder injury from her time serving in the Army years ago.

Phillips, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., said she juggled things as best she could for a long time, eating little while her kids were with their dad so she could feed them well when they were staying with her. Still, she said she struggled to explain why she couldn't always give them pricier, healthy foods like fresh fruit.

She ended up applying for SNAP benefits in July of 2012, while working part time.

"It was a huge benefit for me to be able to know that I could feed my family," she said.

Phillips is currently working as a temporary administrative assistant for a national lab, but the employment is erratic and she says she makes about $17,000 a year. She's also a full-time student.

She recently had a long period of steady employment and was able to go off food stamps, but that temporary position ended Friday and she doesn't know when she'll get another stable position. That means she'll be applying for food stamps again on Monday.

Phillips said she collected about $600 a month previously, and she doesn't yet know what her benefit will be this time, with the new reductions.

"I could make it work for a bit smaller benefit," she said. "If it was a lot different, then I would have a difficult time."

State agencies that administer the food stamp benefit say they are trying to get the word out about the benefit reduction.

Alexis Lambert, communications director for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said they have hung flyers, added a notice to the website and put an announcement on their call center hold message.

In Kansas, Theresa Freed, director of communications for the state's Department for Children and Families, said the state agency has provided recipients with an estimate of what kind of reduction they will see. It also is notifying community partners that they could see an increase in demand for their services.

Some food banks also are preparing for the change. Eric Cooper, chief executive of the San Antonio Food Bank in Texas, said he estimates that a typical SNAP benefit is enough for a family to buy food for two and a half to three weeks. With the reduction, he expects SNAP benefits to typically last for two to two and a half weeks.

"It's going to place a lot more demand on us for kind of 'food for today' type strategies," he said. "Our emergency food and the need for more assistance is going to be greater."


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65 Comments

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progressivehoax

Who cares. Cut all the slugs off. Then they can't buy Prime Rib, T-Bones and Lobster. LMAO

October 23 2013 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jagentmike

Have babies, then worry about who is going to support them , (someone else) get the picture ?

October 22 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dennisiddm

Seeing as we have over 350,000 TEENS Getting Pregant Every Year!
and over 20% of Adult Women On WElfare getting Pregant EVERY YEAR?
Support the Presidents FREE BIRTH CONTROL porgram !

Protect your Teens & Your Family- Get them On Birth Control !

October 22 2013 at 6:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dennisiddm

And why don't they Require Any Teen and WOmen to Have to Be on Birth Control if on any Welfare? They surely don't need to Have another Child do they?
I'd be Asking for Birth Control ! So why aren't they?

October 22 2013 at 6:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Adele

http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/ted-cruz-grifter-who-believes-divine-wealth

Pendejo, Sr. is a "senior pastor" in and runs what they call a franchise ministry by the name of "Purifying Fire Ministries" in Carrollton, Texas. This is yet another of Benny and Suzanne Hinn's "ministries" designed to do nothing but generate money. No churches, phone numbers, congregation, services, and the list goes on and on. The Hinns were totally discredited as well organized grifters and nothing more in an NBC investigation awhile ago. Sen. Pendejo seems to be up to his eyeballs in the scam and speaks regularly at functions supporting this "ministry" alongside Pendejo, Sr. Purified Fire Ministries has a slick website that does nothing but ask for donations. The Hinns operate out of Aliso Viejo, Ca. and have amassed a reported $41 million TAX FREE running their phony ministries. These guys are closely allied with Darrell Issa, "Pastor" Rick Warren, and many others of their kind. It's high time that Cruz be called out on this, king or not. He and this phony ministry need to be investigated.
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October 21 2013 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adele's comment
ovi22

I agree with you 100% just like all the clowns on TBN always asking for money.
Sometimes when I'm changing channels I see on TBN their fundraising, they never
say how much they receive. All other charities are open and say we collected so much.

October 22 2013 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teapotparty11

ALL WE VOTED TO DO WAS CUT THE FREE FOOD BACK DOWN TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE THE MARKET COLLAPSED IN 08 RIGHT BEFORE BUSH LEFT OFFICE. SINCE 10 WHEN WE CREATED ALL THEM JOBS, JOBS, JOBS ALONG WITH THEM SHOVEL JOBS OBAMMA HAD READY THE ECONOMY HAS GOTTEN LOTS BETTER, JUST ASK WALL ST.

October 21 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to teapotparty11's comment
willypfistergash

So the markets = the overall economy?

October 21 2013 at 8:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
willypfistergash

wait until the government wants to cut your foot off.

October 21 2013 at 9:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
teapotparty11

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, NOW TIME TO SING FOR YUR SUPPER ! WE GOT ENOUGH PROBLEMS WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT BASIC NUTRITION FOR YOU SLUGS!

SINCERELY,
THE TEA PARTY

October 21 2013 at 8:32 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to teapotparty11's comment
willypfistergash

This wasn't the tea party's doing. Have mommy read the article to you.

October 21 2013 at 8:43 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
willypfistergash

Should soda, chips, candy, pizza, and doughnuts be allowed to be purchased on SNAP? Ice cream? These foods are not basic nutrition.

October 21 2013 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to willypfistergash's comment
talmarsh

If they would ban those items nobody`s nutrtion would suffer due to the cuts.

October 27 2013 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
coochiescooter

All you geniuses up there on capitol hill should cut the aid to Achmed the terrorist and his exploding with love friends, and feed poor Americans. Y'all ever think about that ?

October 21 2013 at 6:55 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
GaryNPS

Amazing that Congress considers a $39 Billion decrease in SNAP benefits - while throwing away $42+ Billion on a government shutdown.

$1.40 per meal per person is borderline starvaton while 1 in 4 households has at least 1 unemployed or underemployed adult resident.

October 21 2013 at 3:34 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to GaryNPS's comment
jnjnvegas

DON'T MIND HELPING OUT THE POOR BUT NOT TO THE POINT THAT WHAT I SEE IN HE MARKETS. USUALLY A WORKING FAMILY WILL SPEND A PERCENTAGE OF THIER TAKE HOME PAY FOR FOOD. IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH A FAMILY TO RECIEVE A PERCENTGE OF THIER LAST RECORDED TAKE HOME PAY.........SHOULD THEY REALLY NEED IT. . WITHOUT A DOUBT IT WOULD BE FAR LESS THEN WHAT THEY ARE RECIEVING TODAY AND WOULD MAKE THEM BE A BETTER SHOPPER AND NOT JUST A BUYER.

October 21 2013 at 3:10 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply