Millions of American’s Face Food Insecurity

On November 1, food stamp benefits, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), were cut by over $5 billion. As a result of the cuts, a family of four who previously would have received $668 a month will now only receive $632. While this may seem like a small difference, it means that SNAP benefits will now average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014, resulting in a loss of about 21 individual meals per month.

In California, where as many as one in nine families receive SNAP benefits, children will be particularly hard-hit. Nearly 2.5 million California children depend  on food stamps, more than any other state.  The cuts will result in $373 million in benefits lost for these vulnerable children alone in the coming fiscal year, depriving our state’s children access to the nutrition they need to grow and develop, to remain physically and mentally healthy, and to perform well academically.

The cuts this year are a preview of things to come.  SNAP is part of a five-year omnibus farm bill covering all agricultural programs that is currently up for reauthorization in Congress, and both the Senate and the House’s proposed versions of the bill include cuts to SNAP.  The Democrat-controlled Senate’s proposed bill would make relatively minor changes to the SNAP program, cutting $4.5 billion over the next 10 years. The Republican-controlled House’s version, however, has approved cutting up to $40 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years, primarily by tightening eligibility restrictions. If enacted, the House’s proposed legislation would cause at least 4 million people across the nation to lose their food assistance benefits entirely, with another 850,000 households losing an average of $90 a month in benefits, while also causing 210,000 children to lose free school meals.

For more information, read:

San Francisco Chronicle – Food banks can’t make up for food stamp benefit
USA Today – 47M Americans hit by food stamp cuts starting today
New York Times – Cut in food stamps forces hard choices on the poor