October 31st, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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Editor's note: Bob Aiken is chief executive of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to feed the hungry through a national network of member food banks and also fosters efforts to end hunger.

In the last few weeks, the media has been ablaze with news of the government shutdown, the debt limit and health care reform. Missing from most public debate, however, is the cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits that will take place on November 1 and will affect every one of the more than 47 million Americans who depend on the program to help meet their basic nutritional needs.

When the changes are implemented, everyone enrolled in the SNAP program will see their benefits cut. For example, a family of four that qualifies for the maximum monthly benefit will lose $36 a month - that's a 5% reduction.

While this may not seem like a lot, I speak from experience when I say $36 provides much more than you might think. This past September, I participated in the SNAP challenge.

For a week, I stuck to a budget of about $1.50 per meal, the average SNAP benefit for one person. It was a tough week. I found myself drained and constantly thinking of food.

When the SNAP cuts take effect next week, benefits will average about $1.40 per meal. I can't imagine the strain this will place on struggling families who are counting every penny and trying to stretch their benefits.

Read - Cuts will take food off the table for 47 million Americans

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Filed under: Food Politics • Human Rights • Hunger • SNAP

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. GotRocks

    Given our OBESITY epidemic, cutting Food Stamps a bit (i.e., not paying people quite as much to get fat), seems like a good idea to me.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:38 am |
  2. edwin


    Was this article meant to evoke outrage? If so, well done. This family is already stretched thin even with food stamps...and they bring MORE kids into the household? What the hell is wrong with these people?

    November 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  3. AP-NEWS

    (AP) New York

    Welfare Slashed !

    Goya stocks tumble !

    November 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • AP-NEWS

      Want to reduce American Poverty ?

      Stop 'importing' Mexico's Poverty.

      November 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • edwin

        Never mind the fact that most food stamp recipients are white.

        November 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • GotRocks

        "Never mind the fact that most food stamp recipients are white."

        And so are most Mexicans, at least according to the Census Bureau.

        November 2, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  4. ohioan

    It's hard for a single person to live on 1.40/meal for a week because you can't buy in bulk. So the 'food stamp challenge' thing people do is flawed. But if you have a family of 6, 1.40/person/meal is $176.40 per week. Which is $50+ more than I spend on my family of 6 per week without any assistance. What I do see happen is people get $700 in SNAP at the beginning of the month and spend it all in that first week, and end up buying things that are splurges. Then later in the month when their kitchen pantry is empty, they say they don't get enough in food stamps. When many times they could have easily lasted the month if they'd budgeted. 4 weeks in a month, only spend 1/4 of the benefits that first week! Then you can get fresh food each week and it forces you to make budgetary decisions like I'm going to get the fixings for spaghetti this week instead of a few packs of cookies. Maybe having SNAP cards get loaded with a portion of the month's benefits on Monday mornings each week instead of once a monthly would really help.

    November 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • sally hodges

      Just because people get food stamps does not make them stupid or junk food freaks. In addition to SNAP, there are support programs where people get assistance shopping. What the assistants do is help people make economical healthy choices. One program like this is EFNEP, which is sponsored by your local Cooperative Extension Service.

      People like you who pick on the poor disgust me. I remember one person commenting years ago how she saw someone on food stamps buy steak and ingredients for making cake. What she didn't know was that person was celebtrating their son's college graduation. She bought one steak – for her son. How can you hold a grudge against such a person?

      America can afford to help people eat enough. It makes me sick that food stamps were cut. I have never used them. But people who rely on them should not get 5% less. In fact, I think those bozos in Congress should take a pay cut so the people on food stamps get 5% more. If that won't fund the program, then tax Congress's favorite child, GENERAL ELECTRIC. That company hasn't paid taxes in years.

      November 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • PMS Alarm

        bingbingbingbing or more like nagbiotchnagbiotchnag
        Go take a pamprin, honey.

        November 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • Really

        He's not picking on "the poor," but he is pointing out a very real situation that many families who are in the SNAP program encounter. Not all, of course, but bulking up at the beginning of the month and spending some of it on junk or treats is not exactly uncommon. Many people who receive SNAP benefits are not good with money or budgeting, so instead of divvying it out week by week, or buying foodstuffs that last – they eat well at the beginning of the month and not so well at the end.

        It happens.

        That's why it's sometimes baffling to those of us not in the program. Does a family of four really need $800 a month for food? I have never spent that much on groceries per month, and we still eat very well. It just takes some budgeting and more careful shopping.

        I think it's safe to say that many in the SNAP program have not had an opportunity to learn some of these techniques. It might be really beneficial for a family going into the program to be offered a financial planning class. It wouldn't help everyone, and not everyone would need it, but it could be really useful to some.

        November 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • GotRocks

      As long as Potato Chips and Doritos can be bought with TAXPAYER MONEY, taxpayers have EVERY RIGHT to complain.

      November 2, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Ashley

      Ohioan. I like the idea of getting the food stsmps quarterly. I too am a s.n.a.p. benefit reciever. This is my 2nd month to be on the program. Unfortunately my husband has had to take a temp disability leave from work and I am unemployed. We have a 9 year old as well living here. To be honest they gave us more than what we could spend in a month on groceries. And I m sure this is the case for a lot of families. But most will use them all up just bc they can. My husband is returning to work next month, and we will no longer receive snap bc he makes to much. But I would love to see some changes within the program especially for the ones who yake advantage of having them.

      November 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  5. Wow, just wow...

    Moronic hyperbole much?

    November 1, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  6. Millewhasher Paddlewinks

    This is terrible, all the 400lb+ welfare bums will starve when they are reduced down to $300/week each for food. Who can survive off of a 500,000 calorie diet per person per week? They may drop down to a size 4XL with this cut. That is just terrible, maybe they should get another free obama phone or another free college education or another free car or free house to make up for it.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Where is all this free stuff you refer to? Troll

      November 1, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  7. hibeam

    Does this mean our poor people will start weighing less than a Buick Riviera?

    October 31, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Millewhasher Paddlewinks

      I hope so, it makes it tough to maintain the roads in this country when the people weigh as much as a house. Nothing like a 8XXXXXXL welfare bum that receives a free house, free utilities, free food, free clothes, free car, free college education, free gas to "go look for a job" oh and a free cell phone so they can call and brag about how much free stuff they get to all their friends. Did I mention they also get 100% free full coverage health insurance? Yep they get that too.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • Professor Trollworth

        And here class, we observe the North American Spineless Troll in its native environment...

        November 1, 2013 at 9:53 am |
        • GotRocks

          I'm with you, let's leave RACE out of this.

          November 2, 2013 at 7:42 am |
      • Alexander

        You are soooooo right on. I envy them. I wish I was a member of Congress too.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  8. hibeam

    Does this mean our poor people will start weighing less than a Buick?

    October 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  9. hibeam

    What these people need now are Obama alarm clocks to go with their Obama phones. Welcome to the working world.

    October 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Steve

      They would if there were jobs available, the US has lost millions of jobs to China and India, just as we have here in Europe.

      Also the US Fed is still giving away $85 Billion a month to greedy rich traders and bankers and tax breaks to the super rich.

      Welcome to the real world.

      November 1, 2013 at 7:07 am |
      • Daniel

        If you can convince politicians to send illegal immigrants out of the country, maybe you'll be able to find a business looking for employees.

        November 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  10. Quentell Watson

    Everybody giving pride to the system should know the system is double jeopardy to the body. The body is a system. The justice system should never be. The body should be the justice system. Thats what people should be speaking on. People are dying from Strokes, Seizures, and heart attacks. The system is why. White people know that. I say that just to say being bored will be the death of an innocent being, like a child.

    October 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • What?

      Isn't it a little early in the day to be completely baked?

      October 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


        November 1, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  11. megmorris

    While I don't disagree that many need this program and believe that it has benefit, this article fails to mention an important point and closely skirts another. 1. The reduction is due to an end in 2009 stimulus funding, it was never intended to be permanent. 2. Further more, 5% reduction resultant in $36 accounts for $720 month. For a family of four, that is a HUGE. Granted, that's for the max award. My local news outlet is reporting that the avg reduction for a family of 4 is $668- to about $620. On minimum wage, that is just about 2 weeks work! tax free. Even the 2012 USDA guidelines indicate that median spending is less than that for a family of 4 on the "thrifty" plan.
    A fairly decent "supplement" even with reductions.

    October 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • megmorris

      And before I'm accused of being heartless, I give heavily to food banks (on a $300 budget per month for a family of 4 interestingly enough, still plenty to donate) and believe strongly that SNAP serves a purpose and needs to continue. I'm also well informed of the "good food desert" problem of many urban environments. I just think that we need to be realistic that millions of Americans on SNAP + a "supplemental" program currently offering full replacement value (per USDA estimates, not mine) isn't sustainable.

      October 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  12. No-good commenter

    With these cuts, families in need are going to rely even more on food banks and the generosity of others. That means those of us who have more should consider what they can do to help, instead of just debating the politics involved.

    I really think that these cuts across the board are so much less effective than taking an honest look at what they're giving out. I know a single mother and four year old son who get nearly $700 a month in food stamps. They can't eat that much food in a month, but it's their allotment. In our area, it's quite easy to live on $400 or less a month for good food. I know because I spend less than that for two adults, and we are not eating frozen dinners and junk. Even the mother has tried to reduce the allotment, but she's getting the "accept that or nothing" run around.

    If they took the time (and hired the staff) to re-do the allotments so that the people who actually needed more received it while those whose need is less, receive less, it would be much, much better for everyone. But while I say that, I haven't a clue as to how they would be able to make that happen.

    October 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  13. Quentell Watson

    Where is the money going? Will people get jobs? The money goes to entertainment. When having, making, and getting money gets boring. People take the food from the living. Playing life as if life is a game. People die!

    October 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • RC

      Yeah....you really need to back off on the brownies.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  14. Lu

    This is sad. Although there are millions that abuse the system , there are just as many who really actually are in need. :(

    October 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  15. Kimberly

    Slowly backing out of the room...

    October 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  16. Truth™

    Oh, this thread is going to get good...

    October 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      No matter the politics behind it, kids suddenly not having enough to eat is a bad thing.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • Truth™@Kat

        I agree...I was referring to the blame game that will inevitably follow such issues...

        October 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • dora

        Not enough food with $636 a month food stamp for a family of 4 plus free lunches and breakfasts for kids at school? We spend less than $600 a month for food for family of 7.

        November 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Yep. Can't wait for the heartless opinions to spew from the keyboard commandos. Kat is correct. Regardless of politics, kids are in trouble here.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
      • Joyce Barnett

        yes the kids are in trouble ,but when does the parents have to be responsible if my kids need something I work extra put back and make do, I cook and the food stamps people get should have to cook it is cheeper and their money last longer

        November 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Former teacher@Joyce

          M'am, with all due respect, I think you have an opinion in there somewhere, but you really would do well to take a writing class. If this is an example of your written correspondence, it would serve to explain your employment situation.

          November 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
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