Pay Cut May Be Coming For Food Stamp Users - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pay Cut May Be Coming For Food Stamp Users

NBCNEWS.COM - The approximately 47 million Americans who rely on the modern food stamp program could see their monthly assistance cut this year because a recession-era benefits boost is set to expire.

People who receive food assistance -- now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP -- got a raise starting in April 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The increase in benefits, which amounted to about $80 more a month for a family of four, was part of a massive effort to help mitigate the worst effects of the Great Recession.

The temporary boost is set to expire on Oct. 31. If Congress doesn't pass legislation to extend it, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that a family of four could see their benefits cut by about $25 a month. Smaller households would see smaller cuts.

The maximum allotment for a family of four is currently $668, but benefits levels can vary greatly. The average monthly benefit in November was $135.72 per person, or $281.21 per household, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The cut would be less than the original increase because the new rates would be set based on current food prices, which have gone up in the past few years due to inflation. The exact rate change would be clear until this summer, when new benchmarks are set.

Nevertheless, experts say the effect could be quite significant for poor individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet.

"Families being able to afford less food is fundamentally the impact," said Stacy Dean, co-author of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report.

The use of the SNAP program has increased substantially in recent years, as the country has struggled with a weak and uneven economic recovery. About 46.6 million people used the program in 2012, up from about 26.3 million in 2007, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Experts say one problem is that many poor Americans are still feeling the brutal effects of the Great Recession. The recession officially ended in mid-2009, but the recovery remains weak and unemployment remains elevated.

"The recovery isn't playing out the same way for folks at the lower income on the income scale," Dean said.

Most people who receive SNAP benefits are in dire financial circumstances. A report released earlier this year by the Carsey Institute, which does research on vulnerable families, found that the median annual household income for SNAP users was $18,014 in 2011, substantially lower than the nation's median household income of $50,502 that year.

Experts say the program is one of the few places families and individuals can turn to for quick help meeting basic needs.

"It's the largest social safety net program that is like cash," said Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois.

Proponents also argue that it's a successful program because it helps people meet a basic need. SNAP benefits can only be used for food items, and the Department of Agriculture said nearly all benefits are used at supermarkets or farmer's markets within 30 days.

Gundersen said that he would like it if SNAP benefits were even higher. Nevertheless, he argued that the program would continue to be a key way to help poor Americans even if the benefits are scaled back.

"If you cut back on benefits, that's going to hurt people, but it's still going to be successful," he said.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Coeur d'Alene detectives work to identify man at Corner Bar

    Coeur d'Alene detectives work to identify man at Corner Bar

    Tuesday, June 27 2017 12:24 AM EDT2017-06-27 04:24:27 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - In the early morning hours of Sunday, Coeur d'Alene Police officers responded to a parking lot near N. 5th St. and E. Poplar Ave. to check on an unconscious woman. Police say the woman showed signs of possible sexual assault. She was taken to Kootenai Health. Police say before she was found in the parking lot, the woman was at the Corner Bar.

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - In the early morning hours of Sunday, Coeur d'Alene Police officers responded to a parking lot near N. 5th St. and E. Poplar Ave. to check on an unconscious woman. Police say the woman showed signs of possible sexual assault. She was taken to Kootenai Health. Police say before she was found in the parking lot, the woman was at the Corner Bar.

    >>
  • No mail for Shadle neighborhood after safety concern

    No mail for Shadle neighborhood after safety concern

    Monday, June 26 2017 9:55 PM EDT2017-06-27 01:55:34 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - In the rain, snow or sunshine, you expect to get your mail. But two blocks of one Shadle neighborhood is upset, after their mail delivery gets cut off. Neighbors found out it was because of a safety concern to the mail carriers in the area. But some of the folks who live around here say it’s tough to go to the post office to get their mail because most of them are elderly.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - In the rain, snow or sunshine, you expect to get your mail. But two blocks of one Shadle neighborhood is upset, after their mail delivery gets cut off. Neighbors found out it was because of a safety concern to the mail carriers in the area. But some of the folks who live around here say it’s tough to go to the post office to get their mail because most of them are elderly.

    >>
  • Idaho police: Baby dead after being left in hot car

    Idaho police: Baby dead after being left in hot car

    Monday, June 26 2017 7:14 PM EDT2017-06-26 23:14:28 GMT

    TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Twin Falls police are investigating the death of a 10-month-old baby left unattended in a parked vehicle for several hours during the afternoon.      Lt. Terry Thueson says that officers responded to a report of a baby not breathing just before midnight Friday. The baby girl was transported to a local hospital, but efforts to save her life were not successful.

    >>

    TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Twin Falls police are investigating the death of a 10-month-old baby left unattended in a parked vehicle for several hours during the afternoon.      Lt. Terry Thueson says that officers responded to a report of a baby not breathing just before midnight Friday. The baby girl was transported to a local hospital, but efforts to save her life were not successful.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Monday, June 26th

    Mad Minute stories from Monday, June 26th

    Monday, June 26 2017 5:32 PM EDT2017-06-26 21:32:54 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, June 26th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, June 26th.

    >>
  • Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 23rd

    Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 23rd

    Friday, June 23 2017 6:44 PM EDT2017-06-23 22:44:32 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 23rd.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 23rd.

    >>
  • Lobbyist wounded in GOP baseball shooting leaves hospital

    Lobbyist wounded in GOP baseball shooting leaves hospital

    Friday, June 23 2017 8:54 PM EDT2017-06-24 00:54:41 GMT
    @gwuhospital Facebook page@gwuhospital Facebook page

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Another victim of the mass shooting that critically injured a congressman is out of the hospital. The family of Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika says he was released Friday from George Washington University Hospital. Mika was among five people hit by gunfire multiple times in his chest and arm in the attack on a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 14. The others were U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, two U.S. Capitol Police...

    >>

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Another victim of the mass shooting that critically injured a congressman is out of the hospital. The family of Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika says he was released Friday from George Washington University Hospital. Mika was among five people hit by gunfire multiple times in his chest and arm in the attack on a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 14. The others were U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, two U.S. Capitol Police...

    >>