Just in time for the holiday season, millions of American families will see their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits—aka food stamps—slashed by the federal government. On November 1st, recipients of SNAP benefits will lose a portion of their monthly allowance when the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act law expires. The ARRA, which was enacted in 2009, raised the monthly benefits of families on the SNAP program as a reaction to the recession. Now benefits will return to their pre-recession levels, depending on circumstances like household size, income and monthly expenses.
According to the USDA, a family of four with no changes to their status will receive $36 fewer dollars after the first of the month. “For those of us who spend $1.70 a day on a latte this doesn’t seem like a big change," says Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Police Priorities. "But it does kind of really highlight that millions of families are living on an extremely modest food budget.” Over 1 in 7 Americans are currently enrolled in the SNAP program and the program feeds 1.8 million people in New York City alone. The average monthly benefit is approximately $275 per household.
The scaling back of SNAP benefits comes just a month after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-210 to cut the SNAP budget by $4 billion annually. The cuts would come down over the next decade and would also allow states to maintain stricter standards for eligibility, drug test applicants and deny indefinite benefits to adults with no dependents. If enacted, some beneficiaries could also be dropped from the program completely. Your government "at work", people.