CHAPEL HILL – More than 1.7 million of your neighbors in North Carolina will see less food assistance starting on November.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as food stamps—saw an increase in benefits provided in 2009, but on November, that increase will expire, leading to a reduction of $29 per month for a family of three.
Devon Ross, a community organizer with Orange County Justice United, says the reduction in SNAP benefits is one of the many challenges facing people living in poverty.
“Families living in poverty in OrangeCounty are getting increasingly squeezed,” Ross says. “I think cuts to SNAP will increase, in general, the financial pressures that everbody’s already facing.”
Justice United, a community power organization, conducted a series of talks with Orange County residents this spring to find the biggest issues in people’s lives.
Ross says Justice United received more than 600 responses, finding that people are most concerned about affordable housing, unemployment and public transportation.
“We do have a transit system, of course, but one that’s often more geared toward students than toward working people,” Ross says. “That’s a real problem for people who can’t afford a car.”
According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in Orange County from 2007 to 2011 was 16.9 percent. Ross says this, coupled with unemployment for lower-income residents, leads to poor treatment.
“There are a lot of instances of day laborers having their wages stolen or working in unsafe environments,” Ross says. “We’ve got people who are falling through the cracks.”
In addition to the reduction in SNAP benefits, the U.S. House is considering a $40 billion cut in the program.