As I write this, we are less than 3 days away from dramatic spending cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly 48 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits, and every one of them will see a decrease in monthly benefits beginning November 1st.
Dottie Rosenbaum, writing for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) Off the Charts blog, puts the real life cost into perspective.
A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014…That equals about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”
Of course, the potential for further cuts does not end at the first of November. The much debated Farm Bill is still being considered in Congress. Food banks and other charitable organizations are pushing to stop proposed cuts, because they know charitable giving alone can’t alleviate hunger for over 50 million Americans currently living with food insecurity.
And it is not as if we have other assistance programs ready and able to fill the gap left by these cuts. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a time limited cash assistance program, offers only a small amount of relief to families. For a family of three, TANF benefits alone are not sufficient to raise their income above 50% of the federal poverty level.
Most families on TANF rely on other programs for additional support. Liz Schott, also with CBPP, writes that 81% of TANF families rely on SNAP to supplement their food budget. As our blog has also noted this year, housing benefits, workforce training programs, education and other food benefits have suffered cuts as well under sequestration. In light of budget cuts across other safety net programs, further cuts to SNAP are both unwise and ill-timed.
According to Demos, and other policy analysts, SNAP has an incredibly low rate of fraud and also serves as a stimulus to the economies of low-income communities. With the job market still weak and experts scaling back their expectations on when job growth will finally speed up, the timing could hardly be worse either. SNAP is well-known as a work support program, requiring able-bodied adults to either work or take part in employment training programs and supplementing the income of low-wage workers so they can afford basic expenses.
- For more resources and information on the looming cuts, and to watch the countdown clock, you can visit HungerCliff.org.
- Our previous posts about the prospect of cuts to SNAP include The August Recess Has Begun and SNAP Funding (Still) Remains Uncertain, and Cuts to SNAP are on the Way, but How Bad Will They Be?