RALEIGH – More than 1.7 million of our state’s residents will see a reduction in federal food assistance starting this November.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, serves more than 47 million Americans, and the 2009 Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus, temporarily increased the benefits people on SNAP receive.
But, this November, that increase will expire, leading to a reduction of $29 per month for a family of three. Amber Moodie-Dyer, policy advocate with the North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center, says the reduction is disconcerting, especially considering the amount of money a family on SNAP receives now.
“The SNAP benefits are really not enough to help feed working families that are low wage earners,” Moodie-Dyer says. “They have to turn to food banks, and often times, the food banks get strapped and they have to turn people away.”
After the reduction takes place, Moodie-Dyer says the benefits will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
“That makes it really hard for families to, number one, afford food period, but number two, afford healthy food,” Moodie-Dyer says. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, good meat and dairy products can be more expensive than some of the other cheaper products that aren’t as nutritious.”
Moodie-Dyer says this will particularly impact children, who make up half of the 1,708,000 people in the state on SNAP.
“When children don’t get the kind of nutrition that they need at those critical time periods, that’s long-term consequences that can’t ever get turned around, in terms of educational outcomes, in terms of health outcomes,” Moodie-Dyer says.
Moodie-Dyer also makes an economic argument for not cutting SNAP. She says that every $1 increase in SNAP benefits creates $1.70 in economic activity.
“It’s one of the best ways that you can kill two birds with one stone,” Moodie-Dyer says. “You can help struggling working families feed themselves and you can also stimulate economic activity.”
In addition to the reduction in SNAP benefits, the U.S. House is considering a $40 billion cut in the program.