Food stamp recipients will see a major cut in their monthly benefits today when a temporary benefit from the 2009 stimulus that boosted food stamp dollars will expire.
Beginning Nov. 1, a family of four receiving food stamps will receive $36 less a month, according to the Agriculture Department.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, U.S. food-stamp program now cost almost $80 billion a year.
The automatic cuts scheduled for Friday will reduce about $5 billion from federal food stamp spending over the coming year.
In addition to the cuts scheduled for Friday, more cuts are expected to follow.
House and Senate negotiators met this week to begin crafting a compromise farm bill, including cuts to the food stamp program.
The talks opened, just days before food stamp recipients saw the separate, unrelated cut in their monthly benefits.
The House farm bill would cut food stamps by $4 billion annually and change eligibility and work requirements. The Senate bill would cut a tenth of that amount.
The five-year farm bill totals about $500 billion.
Republican lawmakers are seeking to reinstate limits on able-bodied, childless adults aged 18 to 50 and restrict their ability to collect limited benefits unless they worked more than 20 hours per week or enrolled in job-training programs.
In addition to seeking to reduce the amount of food aid received. Conservatives are also seeking to reduce the number of people eligible to received food assistance.
Contrary to the view espoused by some conservatives, food stamps provide a vital need that increases in a bad economy. In many states these requirements cannot be met because unemployment is so high.
While reducing dependency is always a worthy goal, aid should not be done in a ruthless way that disregards the state of the struggling economy.
These cuts will further hurt those who are already hurting in a weak economy that is not creating enough jobs.
These changes will result in millions of people either receiving significant cuts in food aid or no longer eligible to receive food assistance.
SNAP provides food aid to 14 percent of all U.S. households—some 47 million people. Those numbers increased dramatically during the recession.
While the amount of food aid is being dramatically reduced the need for that aid has not changed.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)
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