All U.S. residents who receive food assistance benefits will see a cut in their benefits beginning in November.
The cut, which will be an average of $10 per person per month, will hurt children, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, parents, and people who are facing a wide range of challenges. The cut will also strike another blow against the economy in Athens County and around the country.
“It might not seem like a lot, but for families who are struggling every day to keep food on the table, a $10 to $20 cut is critical,” Athens County Job and Family Services Director Jack Frech said.
And while Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been heavily debating additional cuts to the food stamps program, it should be pointed out that this cut was approved by Congress and President Obama back in 2010.
Food assistance benefits in America are distributed through the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which formerly was known as Food Stamps.
In 2009, food assistance benefits through SNAP were increased by 13.6 percent as part of the federal government’s economic stimulus package. Increases in food stamps have been proven to provide an economic boost, and the increase was designed to help Americans get through the recession.
Even with the increase, though, SNAP benefits are only designed to provide a family with about two or three weeks worth of food each month.
When Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Congress voted to roll back the food stamp increase at the end of 2013 in order to come up with extra funding for a financial bailout of schools and state health programs and to increase the subsidy for school lunches.
At the time, many Democrats pledged to restore the funding before 2013, but those pledges were never acted on and the low-income families who will be hurt by the cut were apparently forgotten about.
On Nov. 1, all U.S. residents who receive SNAP benefits will see a cut in assistance. The decrease in food assistance for each household will depend on the amount of benefits each household receives, according to information from the Center For Budget and Policy Priorities.
A household of one, for example, can receive a maximum benefit of $200 per month. Beginning in November, that maximum benefit will drop to $189 per month. Many people do not receive the maximum benefit. The minimum amount that a one-person household can receive is $16 per month. In November, that amount will drop to $15 per month.
The maximum cuts in assistance for households of different sizes are as follows:
· Households of 2 - $20
· Households of 3 - $29
· Households of 4 - $36.
Ohio currently has more than 1.8 million SNAP recipients, and the average benefit is $132 per person.
Athens County has more than 11,000 SNAP recipients who receive an average benefit of $125 per month.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that nationally, the cut in SNAP benefits will result in a total reduction of $5 billion in fiscal year 2014.
In Athens County for fiscal year 2014, the cut in food stamps will result in a loss of more than $1.3 million in funding that is spent primarily at grocery stores and convenience stores in the county. The cut will be very hard on local families and likely will have a detrimental effect on the local stores and the local economy.
Some members of Congress have discussed legislation to stop the cut from taking place, but no action has been taken yet. Area residents who feel strongly about the cut are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives and let them know how they feel.