On November 1, four million Texans will see a cut in their food assistance benefits when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire. In a new report using the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains the nationwide cuts, which will affect 47 million Americans, including 22 million children.
All SNAP participants will see their food aid reduced. For a family of three, that cut will mean a reduction of $29 a month—$319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
“This small increase in SNAP benefits has helped millions of struggling families in Texas stay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Rachel Cooper of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Twenty-nine dollars a month doesn’t sound like a lot until you’re standing in the grocery store aisle with two weeks left in the month, wondering how you’re going to feed your kids.”
In addition to helping to feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity. The across-the-board cuts scheduled for November will reduce the program by $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 alone. Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income families.
“Every Texan who depends on SNAP—including 2 million children—will see a cut in their benefits, even though incomes haven’t risen. This has never happened before and people don’t realize its coming,” said Cooper. “Given the fact that many families struggle to make it through the month on their current benefits, these cuts will hurt a lot of Texans.”
These across-the-board cuts will be on top of even deeper cuts to the program in the Farm Bill, that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering and could vote on in the coming weeks.
“SNAP has been a powerful tool in helping to keep families from going hungry,” said Cooper. “More than 80 percent of Texas households on SNAP are employed or recently employed, but they earn too little. SNAP has helped these families keep food on the table. Now is not the time to cut food benefits for these struggling families.”