Automatic food stamp cuts take effect in November -

Automatic food stamp cuts take effect in November

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By Carlos Otero By Carlos Otero

(KMOV) -- Starting Friday, people on food stamps will see across-the-board decreases in their monthly allotments.  Stimulus money that was used to increase funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, in 2009 is set to expire this November.

Glenn Koenen with the Missouri Association for Social Welfare argues the cuts are poorly timed.

“We had a temporary boost designed to offset the typical recession.  This recession isn’t typical.  It’s taken a lot longer for jobs to come back, wages have not come back and so a lot of people are still finding themselves caught at almost the same level they were five years ago,” said Koenen.

Koenen said people on food stamps received letters about the cuts, but because the benefits vary from person to person, the letters don’t spell out what exactly how much less a food stamp recipient can expect.

“Some people are going to lose only $10 to $15.  Others are going to lose $25 or $35, but they won’t know exactly how much they’ve lost until they go to the grocery store and try to buy food,” he said.

And, there may be some confusion about the new cuts after many food stamp recipients saw an annual cost of living adjustment take effect in October.

“I don’t know if too many people in the community are aware they’re likely to see a little decrease in their benefits, especially because some of them would have gotten a cost of living increase at the beginning of this month.  So, they may be thinking, ‘Oh great, I’m getting more.  A few pennies more per meal on my SNAP’ and all of a sudden on Friday, it’s going to go down,” said Gary Wells of Operation Food Search.

The USDA wrote in August that a household of four people who get the maximum monthly benefit of $668, should expect a decrease of $36 a month.

According to the USDA, the average monthly benefit per person in Missouri was $128.54 in fiscal year 2012.  In Illinois, it was $139.45.  

Local food pantries are also keeping an eye on more cuts expected to be approved by Congress.   U.S. House and Senate negotiators are working on a compromise to separate farm bills, which would include cuts to the food stamp program.

The unrelated cuts that go into effect in November are expected to trim $5 billion from the federal food stamp budget next year.



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