More food stamp cuts coming

More food stamp cuts coming

SNAP logo - wikimediaLast week, expansions ended to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as the Food Stamp program. Food stamp recipients will see their benefits cut depending on the size of their family. A family of four, for example, will face a $36 monthly cut, while a one person household will only face a $1 cut to benefits. But this is only the beginning of reining in the program.

The Los Angeles Times provided plenty of anecdotes about the cuts in its story about the program:

“The impoverished are forced to eat junk if we want to eat,” said 32-year-old Tabitha, a mother of a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old staying at a Culver City shelter, who asked that her last name not be used because she said she was embarrassed. “It’s going to be difficult, as it already has been. …”

Friday’s benefit reduction was meant to coincide with a brightening economy, yet many Americans remain stuck in poverty despite improvements from the worst of the recession.

“I think it’s a horrible thing,” said Najuah Mudahy, 30, also of the Culver City shelter, a food stamp recipient who works two jobs, as a clerk at a shoe store and a hostess at a California Pizza Kitchen. Both bring in $9 an hour. Mudahy said she runs out of money to keep her 3-year-old daughter fed before the end of every month, even on dinners of canned soup.

 “It only forces people to do desperate things,” she said of the cuts.

SNAP has grown dramatically in recent years. Around 19 million Americans received benefits in 2002. By 2007, 7 million more Americans were enrolled in the program. And by 2012, 47 million Americans were enrolled in the expanded program. Costs ballooned from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion in 2012.

Increase

So why the dramatic increase?

Two reasons: the economic recession and policy changes that made it easier to enroll in the program. The Washington Post explains:

Defenders of the program typically argue that enrollment rose because we had a horrific recession and unemployment hit the stratosphere. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is supposed to kick in to help families hit by economic distress. The program has kept 4.7 million people out of poverty. There’s no problem here. And so on.

Some conservatives, meanwhile, have emphasized that a big chunk of the increase is due to policy changes by Washington. In 2008, Congress allowed states to relax their standards for who could join the program. (Jobless adults could stay in the program if they lived in high-unemployment areas, for instance.) Then, as part of the 2009 stimulus bill, Congress temporarily boosted food-stamp benefits.

The cuts that began at the start of this month were mandatory; the expansion was only set to last for so long. But more cuts might be coming in the future. The House and Senate are currently debating how much to cut SNAP. Conservatives are arguing for more restrictions about who can join the program.

From the Washington Post:

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.)

Conservatives have argued that reinstating the work requirements will encourage adults to find jobs more quickly. Liberal critics have countered that employment opportunities are still scarce in many parts of the country — many Americans will simply lose their food aid without finding work. This change would remove an estimated 1.7 million people from the food-stamp rolls.

— 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.

CalWatchdog.com will continue covering changes to SNAP in the upcoming months as farm bill negotiations continue.

5 comments

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  1. LetItCollapse
    LetItCollapse 7 November, 2013, 13:03

    Hold it a second! I thought we came out of the recession in 2010? Isn’t that what Obama told us? So why hasn’t the food stamp enrollment dropped significantly with the ‘improved economy’?

    IS SOMEBODY LYING TO US AGAIN?!!!

    Looks like they’re going to need to cut back on food stamps to pay for the medicaid expansion under ObamaCare. They are expecting 20M NEW medicaid enrollees by 2017 in the 27 liberal states that allow the medicaid expansion under ACA.

    Do you realize that since the US began the ‘war on poverty’ (entitlement programs) that the out-of-wedlock births in America went from 7% of all live births to 40%?

    Do you realize that a single mom with an out-of-wedlock child is 5 times more likely to live in poverty?

    Do you realize that those who live in poverty are about 8 times as likely to commit or become victims of murder?

    Do you realize that California has 12% of the nation’s population and 33% of the nation’s welfare recipients?

    Have widespread entitlement programs helped or hurt us as a nation?

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 7 November, 2013, 15:19

    Come on…..everyone needs a break now and then. Perhaps, if you take a few months off and eat the government cheese you may be more tolerant of human misery out there.

    – pass the Del Taco hot sauce packets please!

    Reply this comment
  3. RT
    RT 7 November, 2013, 15:56

    “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.” Yes this is true. In fact, in California,
    Counties have the option of providing the “CalFRESH” (FoodStamp) Employment and Training program to assist clients in becoming employed or going to school. However many counties do not offer this program. This is a shame as this program would help CalFRESH clients find work.

    Reply this comment
  4. LetItCollapse
    LetItCollapse 8 November, 2013, 12:41

    Did you know that the Federal food stamp (SNAP) program expenditures have grown from $18B in 2000 to about $85B in 2012?

    And since the recession ended in 2009 or 2010 (according to Obama)the number of SNAP recipients (about 47M) grew until just recently when it declined in 2013 by a fraction of a percentage (about 2-3/100th of one percent).

    Did you know that JP Morgan, the ‘too big to fail’, administers the EBT program for 24 states and 2 US territories? The government pays JP a flat rate per SNAP recipient. According to reports up to $2.30 per head, depending on the EBT cardholder benefit package. So the more recipients, the more money JP collects. Also, JP charges each state to use the EBT Point of Sale (POS ) machines found at the various retail food outlets. These record the electronic sales and transfer the data to JP. JP charges AZ about $14.95/mo for each machine. In 18 of the 24 states JP is said to have made over $560M since 2004 on the EBT programs. Some data is not reported (confidential) so the total revenue is not available to the public.

    It’s reported that JP spent $82M on political donations to Agricultural committee members in the House and Senate in 2002. By 2010 that amount increased to $333M.

    Swipe yo EBT – it’s free!

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 10 November, 2013, 16:10

    The theory is go ahead and feed them or they will take over the super markets and become mortified finding juice and milk magically don’t originate there!

    Eat more government cheese!

    Reply this comment

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