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New Report: 875,000 Kentuckians to See Cuts to Food Benefits in Fall

This article is from the Kentucky Center on Economic Policy and originally appeared in KY Forward.

Some 875,000 people in Kentucky will see a cut in their food assistance benefits this fall, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and detailed in a report from the Washington, D.C.,-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

All of the more than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, who receive SNAP will see their food assistance reduced when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires on Oct. 31. For a family of three, that cut will likely 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 only about $1.40 per person per meal

“This may seem like the loss of a small increase in SNAP benefits, but it has made a big difference in the lives of 875,000 Kentuckians,” said Ashley Spalding, Research and Policy Associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “This modest food assistance is enabling families to stay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

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.

Spalding continued, “These SNAP cuts will affect all participants, many of whom are children and elderly Kentuckians. Given the fact that benefits are already inadequate for many families—and the majority of SNAP participants who can work are already working—these cuts will be particularly painful.”

On top of these across-the-board cuts to the program, the U.S. House of Representatives recently considered legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating food assistance for nearly two million people and providing strong financial incentives to states to reduce their caseloads. The House voted to reject the proposal, but could consider additional cuts to the program again in the coming weeks.

“At a time when one in six Kentuckians do not always know where their next meal will come from, the boost to the SNAP program has helped hundreds of thousands of families in the Commonwealth stay afloat,” stated Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. “Yet food banks in Kentucky still face skyrocketing demand for food assistance. There is no way food banks can meet the increased need for food assistance that will result from a reduction in SNAP benefits to families. Food banks need more supply, not more demand.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ full report can be found here.

Photo via USDA.