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Monday, November 4, 2013

Government Starts Cutting SNAP Food Stamp Program, Driving More People to Food Banks and Soup Kitchens

Food banks feel pressure from food stamp cuts

On November 1, 2013, the U.S. government started to implement cuts to the amount that individuals and families will receive from the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps.

Why is this happening?

The SNAP program is administered by the Department of Agriculture. It is part of a larger and more comprehensive five-year 2009 farm bill covering all agricultural programs. With the additional allocations expiring, no new bill is up for consideration because Congress is currently deadlocked.

What will happen now?

The cuts will drive more people to food banks and soup kitchens. The problem is, food banks are suffering, too. Funding for food banks comes from a variety of sources, such as private donations, community food drives and cash donations from individuals. However, funding also comes from local, state and federal sources. This includes the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) and the Community Food and Nutrition Program (CFNP), both federal programs.

States have had to absorb 40 - 90 percent cuts in federal programs and 20 - 25 percent cuts in state funding. With more people expected to visit the food banks as a result of SNAP cuts, these organizations expect to come up short. In other words, they just won't have enough food to distribute.

Who will be affected?

Everyone receiving benefits from SNAP will be affected in some way. A cut of $36 a month to a family of four currently receiving $668 per month in SNAP benefits may not seem like much. But these families will have to make choices on what they can no longer buy due to reduced benefits. The most vulnerable will suffer the most. This includes elderly, single-parent families, and the disabled. To them, it's not just a number. It's taking food out of their mouths.

What to expect

The outlook is grim. Congress is currently debating the bill. The Republicans want to cut another $39 billion from the program over the next decade, and the Democrats are proposing a cut of $4 billion. Either way, the ones who are losing are the poor.
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