SNAP food assistance drop today, bigger cuts on horizon
The Associated Press
In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 photo, David, 6, Donald the son of Jennifer Donald whose family receives money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also know as food stamps, eats dinner in Philadelphia. Families already buffeted by difficult economic times will see their food stamps benefits drop Nov. 1 as money allocated by the 2009 federal stimulus plan runs out. The average family of four will see benefits drop by $36 a month, a tough hit at a time when child poverty is climbing and Congress is debating a major cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Starting today, thousands of people in Ottawa and Allegan counties will have to do with a little less in food assistance.
A temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program expires today, reducing the amount of assistance a family of four gets by $36.
Today’s drop in assistance is, however, far from the top priority for those who fear cutting food assistance. Much bigger cuts are on the horizon as members of the House and Senate meet in a conference committee to hammer out details between the two versions of the Farm Bill.
Each makes cuts to food stamps, now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
“That issue has been decided,” said Judy Putnam with the Michigan League for Public Policy. “What’s yet to be decided is how deep those cuts will be.”
The Senate bill would save about $1.8 billion a year, while the House bill would save about $5.2 billion a year.
In fiscal year 2007, America spent $33 billion on food assistance, said Brian Patrick, a spokesman with Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland. Five years later, in 2012, that number more than doubled to $80 billion. The number of able-bodied working adults without dependents grew by almost 164 percent from 2007 to 2011.
“This has become a bloated program, and the Obama administration has gone well outside the scope and intent of the law,” Patrick said.
Current farm and food stamp spending is about $97 billion a year, with about 80 percent of that money going to food stamps.
SNAP for decades has been part of the farm bill in an effort to attract urban lawmakers' votes for rural programs. The Senate farm bill would cut about $400 million from the almost $80 billion annual total by targeting states that give people very small amounts of heating assistance so they can automatically qualify for higher SNAP benefits.
The House bill would cut $4 billion yearly by making similar changes and eliminating "broad-based categorical eligibility," or automatic food stamp benefits when people are signed up for certain other programs. The House bill also would allow states to create new work requirements and end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely. Senate Democrats have opposed all of those major changes to the program.