Let them eat cake

Food stamp help takes a hit November 1, as benefits decrease for hungry people across the country.

The reason for the cut? The federal government raised the amount of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP = new name for food stamps) during the recession. The increase was small, and temporary. Now it’s going away.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated the estimated monthly cut in SNAP benefits:

The cuts might seem small — an average of $14 for a family of two. Why, that’s only about three or four lattes! But if you are a single parent with a child, depending on food stamps, you are probably not drinking lattes. It’s more likely that the $14 cut means a gallon of milk, a bag of apples, and a chicken.

food stamp cutsThe Minnesota Department of Human Services sent out a press release with tips for families coping with reduced food dollars, including finding food shelves and emergency food resources through the Minnesota Food Helpline, 1-888-711-1151, operated by Hunger Solutions Minnesota, and MinnesotaHelp.info.

The relatively small cut on November 1 is just the beginning. The House Agriculture Committee has proposed bigger and permanent cuts to food assistance. These cuts not only would affect SNAP but also would cut hundreds of thousands of children off the free and reduced price school lunch program. (For a detailed discussion, see Cuts in House Leadership SNAP Proposal Would Affect Millions of Low-Income Americans.)

Who gets SNAP? To be eligible, a family generally can have no more than 130 percent of poverty income.

In Minnesota, 542,945 people used SNAP benefits in July 2013. That’s down slightly from December 2012. The year-end Minnesota Department of Human Services report for 2012 showed:

Who is on SNAP. In December 2012, 272,496 adults were eligible for stand-alone SNAP in Minnesota. Thirty-nine percent were in families with minor children, 16 percent were seniors aged 60 or older, 34 percent were disabled adults, and 24 percent were childless, non-disabled adults. There were 186,790 children eligible for stand-alone SNAP. Thirteen percent of these children had disabled parents and 1 percent lived with a senior.

Income from work. Overall, 31 percent of SNAP cases had reported income from work. This varied by case category with 66 percent of families with children, 26 percent of other adults, 12 percent of disabled, and 7 percent of senior cases reporting work. The average reported earnings for working cases were $1,341 per month. Families with children reported the highest earnings with $1,609 and seniors reported the lowest with $763 on average.”

These are the people who will take a hit on November 1. These are the people who are the targets of the House Agriculture Committee’s proposed cuts to food benefits programs.

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