Food Stamp Cuts Take Effect Today

moneyNATIONAL – For people already struggling to get by, it’s going to be a little bit harder to make ends meet. Starting today, Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits will be reduced as program allocations built into the 2009 stimulus bill expire.

The reduction, which amounts to about $36 from a $668 maximum monthly benefit for a family of four, affects 47 million people, 1 in 7 Americans.  The average individual receives about $133 in SNAP benefits, while a typical family gets $278.

“The cuts are going to make millions of people hungry,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, a not-for-profit public policy firm focused on ending hunger in the U.S. “It’s going to send people into a charitable system that’s already overwhelmed and screaming for help itself. And it will make life harder and worse for millions of children, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.”

The benefit cuts could also have a larger effect on the U.S. economy. Economists say that every dollar of SNAP spending generates approximately $1.70 in local economic activity. A $5 billion reduction in program funding could remove $8.5 billion in local economic activity and could cause food prices to rise as food sellers try to offset lost income.

House Republicans want to cut an addition $4 billion per year from the program and make it harder for people to qualify for benefits.

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