Beginning November 1, 2013, federal budget cuts will affect every household across the country participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), popularly known as "food stamps." The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which boosted SNAP benefits in the last few years, will expire at the end of October, causing a sharp reduction in benefits and leaving many families without the means to put food on the table.
SNAP is the nation’s most important nutrition program, currently providing over 47 million participants with a debit card to purchase food each month. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, around 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children and more than 25 percent of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.
As a result of the upcoming benefit cuts, the maximum monthly benefit received for an individual will drop from $200 to $189, while the minimum will drop from $16 to $15. A family of four with no income can expect a $36 decrease in their monthly amount. Such reductions may seem small, but the CBPP’s number crunching revealed the cuts for some families are roughly the equivalent of losing 21 meals per month and leave the average family with less than $1.40 per person per meal.
In the District of Columbia, more than 140,000 residents (or around 22% of the population) currently benefit from SNAP each month, including 1 in 2 children. With the November 1st cuts, SNAP participants in DC will lose a total of 15 million dollars: funds that previously were the difference between eating and going hungry for many residents.