With the end of funding from the 2009 stimulus bill, a new report revealed 47 million Americans using food stamps will have less money per month to buy meals.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, gives assistance in buying groceries for low-income individuals and families throughout the United States, according to the United States Department of Agriculture website.
“The upcoming cuts to SNAP benefits will be significant and have far-reaching impacts on low-income individuals and families,” the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said. “They will likely increase hardship for the more than 47 million Americans who rely upon SNAP to meet their basic nutritional needs.”
The report adds Congress is “unlikely” to pass legislation to blunt the effects of the cut, but the existing levels of benefits are considered to be inadequate by some experts.
However, Regan Hopper, acting director of public affairs at the DOA’s Food and Nutrition Service, said SNAP benefits are not ending, and in fact, this change is not as drastic as many think.
“SNAP benefits are reducing,” Hopper said, “but they’re basically just being restored back to the original level of benefits before the ARRA bill took place.”
The ARRA, also known as the stimulus bill of 2009, was a temporary set of measures intended to stimulate the economy that has reached its expiration date, Hopper said.
Hopper added the Food and Nutrition Service has and will continue to provide resources such as recipes, guides to buying on a budget and other helpful links to SNAP participants.
Regardless, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, expressed concern about the effects of the cut, as well as more potential SNAP reductions in the future.
“Right here in Wisconsin, this reduction will impact over 800,000 individuals who receive FoodShare,” Moore said. “A caseload that includes mostly children, the elderly and those with disabilities.”
This loss of benefits is essentially taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four, Moore said. She added food pantries may face an increase in clientele because of the large number of families affected by the reduction.
Moore added any additional cuts, like those anticipated during the finishing of the new farm bill, would cause even more problems.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, addressed the issue in a statement Friday.
“These types of cuts, just like the $40 billion food stamp cuts proposed by my House Republican colleagues, make millions of Americans more hungry while hurting our economy and further slowing our recovery,” Pocan said in the statement. “I urge my colleagues to join our efforts to preserve food assistance funding for those who need it most.”
Both Moore and Pocan signed on as co-sponsors on the “Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act,” aiming to delay the end of increased benefits. The bill was referred to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee last week.
Tamarine Cornelius, a research analyst at the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, addressed the council’s efforts concerning the SNAP benefit reductions.
“The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would result in some additional, very drastic cuts, about $40 billion over the next ten years,” Cornelius said. “So the effort has been mostly on not piggybacking those additional cuts on what’s already happening.”