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Food Assistance Benefits to Drop for Nearly 47 Million Americans This November

All of the more than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, who receive food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) will see their benefits cut this fall, according to new data that the U.S. Department of Agriculture released today and discussed in a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

That’s because a modest boost in benefits for all SNAP recipients that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship expires on October 31.  Beginning November 1, every SNAP household in America will face cuts to already modest assistance to purchase food.  For a family of three, that cut will mean a reduction of $29 a month — $319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year — a serious loss for families whose benefits will, after this cut, average less than $1.40 per person, per meal. 

“Millions of families’ budgets have been stretched to the breaking point during the economic recession and the long recovery,” stated Stacy Dean, Vice President for Food Assistance Policy and an author of the report. “Whether someone has lost a job, or is working at a job that does not pay enough to keep food on the table, this modest increase in food assistance is providing a vital lifeline to keep families afloat.”

SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy, with every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generating about $1.70 in economic activity.

The across-the-board cuts scheduled for November will reduce the program by $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 alone.  Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income families.

Dean continued, “For the first time in the program’s history, every SNAP recipient will see a cut in their benefits — including 22 million children.  These cuts will be particularly painful for the many families who struggle to have enough to eat at the end of each month even with SNAP assistance.”

On top of these across-the-board cuts to the program, the House of Representatives recently considered legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating food assistance for nearly 2 million people and incentivizing states to cut families off of the program.  The House is considering and could vote on even deeper cuts to the program in the coming weeks.

The full report, SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants In November 2013, is available at