Tonight is when young beggars go collect all manner of candy from their neighbors. Tomorrow, they start to starve — or at least go hungry more often.
[Tomorrow] is when Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits are set to fall for more than 47 million lower-income people — 1 in 7 Americans — most of whom live in households with children, seniors or people with disabilities. Barring congressional intervention, the maximum payment for a family of four will shrink from $668 a month to $632, or $432 over the course of a year.
That amounts to 21 meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cuts will leave participants in the program, better known as food stamps, with an average of $1.40 to spend on each meal. The amount people get could sink even more if Congress makes deeper cuts later this year when House and Senate lawmakers try to hammer out a farm bill.
The Nov. 1 benefit cuts “will be close to catastrophic for many people,” said Ross Fraser, a spokesman for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, which estimates that this week’s SNAP reduction will result in a loss of nearly 2 billion meals for poor families next year.
Food stamps are the government’s biggest nutrition-assistance program for low-income people and, along with federal unemployment benefits, a key support system for the most vulnerable Americans. More than three-quarters of households getting food stamps include a child, elderly person or someone with a disability. Some 83 percent of families are at or below the official poverty line (roughly $11,500 for an individual and $23,500 for a family of four).
There’s much more at the excellent story at the above link if you’d like to read it — as you I hope you will.
And for those of you who want something even more extensive, here you go.
Who else will be getting the sharp end of the stick in the ribs tomorrow? Almost a million veterans!
Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, will automatically drop come Friday thanks to the loss of additional funds from the 2009 stimulus bill. That cut will hit about 900,000 of the country’s veterans,according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011,” CBPP writes. The number varies state to state, with over 100,000 veterans in households that rely on the benefits in Florida and Texas each.
But it’s OK, you see, so long as we all remember to say “thank you for your service.” Anyway, so much for the bad news, now for the bad news:
The automatic reduction in food stamps won’t likely be the last cut, however. House and Senate lawmakers are set to negotiate this week over a bill to continue funding the program, and House Republicans want to cut it by $40 billion, while Senate Democrats have proposed cutting it by $4 billion. If Republicans get their way, as many as 6 million people could be dropped from SNAP.
Really? This isn’t as bad as it’s going to get; we’re going to make it worse? Yes indeed!
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced legislation on September 16 setting forth the House Republican leadership’s proposal to cut SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program) by at least $39 billion over ten years. This is almost double the cut in the House Agriculture Committee farm bill and about ten times the SNAP cut in the Senate-passed farm bill. The proposal is expected to go to the House floor this week.
The legislation (H.R. 3102) incorporates all of the SNAP cuts and other nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House leaders sought unsuccessfully to pass in June, which would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over ten years. It also adds new provisions designed to cut at least another $19 billion in benefits, primarily by eliminating states’ ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP’s austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years.
The House SNAP bill is harsh. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates it would deny SNAP to approximately 3.8 million low-income people in 2014 and to an average of nearly 3 million people each year over the coming decade. Those who would be thrown off the program include some of the nation’s most destitute adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages. The people the bill would cut off SNAP include but are not limited to:
- 1.7 million unemployed, childless adults in 2014 who live in areas of high unemployment — a group that has average income of only 22 percent of the poverty line (about $2,500 a year for a single individual) and for whom SNAP is, in most cases, the only government assistance they receive (this number will average 1 million a year over the coming decade);
- 2.1 million people in 2014, mostly low-income working families and low-income seniors, who have gross incomes or assets modestly above the federal SNAP limits but disposable income — the income that a family actually has available to spend on food and other needs — below the poverty line in most cases often because of high rent or child care costs. (This number will average 1.8 million a year over the coming decade.) In addition, 210,000 children in these families would also lose free school meals;
- Other poor, unemployed parents who want to work but cannot find a job or an opening in a training program — along with their children, other than infants.
So: Happy Halloween, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving, too! Merry Christmas! Hope you make it to the New Year.