Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I would encourage you to give generously to your community food banks out of the spirit of the holidays this season, or out of empathy and human compassion for your fellow man, because people are going to need it.
Brad Plumer explains at Wonkblog, Food stamps will get cut by $5 billion this week — and more cuts could follow:
The U.S. food-stamp program is set to shrink in the months ahead. The only real question is by how much.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) currently costs
about $80 billion per year and provides food aid to 14 percent of all
U.S. households — some 47 million people. Those numbers swelled dramatically during the recession.
But the food-stamp program is now set to downsize in the weeks ahead.
There's a big automatic cut scheduled for Nov. 1, as a temporary boost
from the 2009 stimulus bill expires. That change will trim about $5
billion from federal food-stamp spending over the coming year.
And that's not all: The number of Americans on food stamps could drop
even further in the months ahead, as Congress and various states
contemplate further changes to the program. Here's a rundown:
1) The end of the stimulus boost. First up is a big
automatic cut to SNAP scheduled for Nov. 1. This is happening because
the food-stamp program was temporarily expanded in 2009 as part of the
Recovery Act. That bill spent $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit
levels to around $133, on average.
That bump will end on Friday, and benefits will shrink by around 5
percent on average. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a short report calculating what this will mean for individual households:
So, for instance: The maximum monthly benefit for a family of four will
drop from $668 per month down to $632. The maximum monthly benefit for
an individual will drop from $200 per month to $189. ("The cut is
equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the
cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s 'Thrifty Food Plan,' notes
2) Congress could cut food stamps even further. The stimulus lapse isn't the only cut on the horizon. This week, the House and Senate will resume
their haggling over a five-year farm bill. The main point of
contention, as before, is over how much to pare back the food-stamp
The Senate approved a farm bill that would make only minor changes to
the food-stamp program, saving $4.5 billion over 10 years (compared
with current law).
House Republicans, meanwhile, went even further, voting on a bill
that would cut $39 billion from the program over 10 years, largely by tightening restrictions on who could qualify for food stamps:
The House bill would remove 3.8 million people from the food-stamp rolls over the upcoming year by making two big changes:
— First, it would reinstate limits on benefits for
able-bodied, childless adults aged 18 to 50. These recipients would only
be able to collect limited benefits — up to three months over a
three-year period — unless they worked more than 20 hours per week or
enrolled in job-training programs. (States are currently able to waive
these latter requirements when unemployment is high.)
* * *
— The second big change is that the House bill would restrict
states' abilities to determine a person's eligibility for food stamps
based in part on whether they qualify for other low-income benefits.
This is known as "categorical eligibility" and has generally allowed
families just above the poverty line to receive food stamps if they have
unusually high housing costs or are facing other hardships.
This second change would take another 2.1 million people off food
stamps in 2014 and then remove an additional 1.8 million people per year
for the next decade.
It's unclear how many of these cuts will actually get passed into
law, however, since the House and Senate still have to figure out how to
reconcile their two bills.
3) New state restrictions. Even if Congress doesn't pass further cuts to the program, some states could act on their own to restrict eligibility.
In 2013, 44 states qualified for federal waivers that would allow
more able-bodied adults to receive food stamps if unemployment in the
area was particularly high. House Republicans want to curtail those
waivers as part of their farm bill. But even if the House GOP doesn't
get its way, some states are planning to stop asking for waivers anyway.
* * *
So even if the cuts in the House bill fail, many states could act on their own to shrink the number of food-stamp recipients.
Here's some research showing that food stamps are effective at stabilizing the economy during a downturn. And here's a paper finding that children's access to food stamps can bolster their health and economic prospects as adults.