|August 15, 2013
Food Stamp Program faces cuts in November
HELENA – More than 130,000 people in Montana will see their food assistance benefits reduced this fall, when a temporary increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits is set to expire, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discussed in a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
For 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, SNAP benefits will decrease on November 1, when a boost in SNAP benefits that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship expires. Because of this cut, a family of three will have $29 less a month to help them put food on the table. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
“This increase in SNAP benefits has meant tens of thousands of families in Montana do not have to choose between buying medicine or cooking dinner, keeping the lights on or feeding kids breakfast,” stated Jackie Semmens, a policy analyst with the Montana Budget and Policy Center. “As we are still climbing out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, now is not the time to cut back on a program that benefits Montana’s workers, families, and economy.”
The cuts scheduled for November will reduce the program by $13 million in fiscal year 2014 alone. Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income workers, families, and children. Fifty-five thousand children and 9,000 seniors in Montana rely on SNAP.
In addition to helping feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.
Semmens continued, “SNAP keeps families out of poverty. The majority of recipients who are able to work, do. And for those who are struggling to find work, or work at a job that doesn’t pay enough, SNAP is a vital lifeline. The benefits go far beyond the families and individuals receiving them; farmers and grocery stores also do better when they have consumers who can purchase their goods.”
On top of these cuts to the program, the U.S. House of Representatives recently defeated legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating food assistance for nearly two million people. That legislation would have also provided strong financial incentives to states to cut those who are unable to find work from their caseloads. This could leave many families and their children without food assistance when they need it most. The House is considering and could vote on even deeper cuts to the program in the future.
“Never before has SNAP experienced such across the board cuts that would impact all participants – the working, the unemployed, the elderly, the disabled, and even children,” stated Semmens. “Now is not the time to reduce this necessary assistance for struggling Montanans.”
About the Montana Budget and Policy Center
The mission of the Montana Budget and Policy Center is to advance sound public policy through timely and objective research and analysis in order to promote shared prosperity and opportunity for all Montanans.