While U.S. Congress Debates Deep Cuts to Food Assistance, over 536,000 Minnesotans Will See Drop in Benefits Beginning November 1
Over 536,000 people in Minnesota will see a cut in their food assistance benefits beginning November 1, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire.
All of the more than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, who receive SNAP, will see their food assistance reduced when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients, included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship, expires on October 31. For a family of three in Minnesota, that cut will mean a reduction of about $29 a month. The cuts come on top of a proposed $40 billion cut to the program passed by the House of Representatives in September. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal. In Minnesota, the current average benefit is $118 a month per person or $244 per month per household.
“This small increase in SNAP benefits has provided an important stepping stone for one in five families with children and over 100,000 seniors and disabled in Minnesota during the deep economic recession and long recovery, empowering them to keep food on the table as they seek employment, send their children off to school, and get themselves back on their feet,” stated Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
In addition to helping to feeding hungry families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity. This across the board cut will mean a $55,000,000 loss in food spending in Minnesota over the next year.
On top of these already scheduled across-the-board cuts, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation cutting $40 billion from SNAP, potentially eliminating assistance for at least 38,500 people in Minnesota and nearly 4 million nationwide. The legislation would provide strong financial incentives for states to reduce their caseloads, making it significantly harder for low-income families to put food on the table, and would eliminate assistance for some of the poorest Americans. The House-passed plan for SNAP coupled with the cuts beginning November 1 would deal a significant blow to millions of Americans who continue to struggle to make ends meet as the economy continues to slowly recover.
Three members (Senator Amy Klochuchar, Representative Collin Peterson and Representative Tim Walz) of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation have been appointed to the Farm Bill conference committees in the U.S. Senate and House. SNAP is funded via the Farm Bill. The conferees will begin negotiations on October 30.
“SNAP has been a powerful tool in helping to keep families out of poverty,” stated Moriarty. “The majority of SNAP recipients, who are able to work, do so. And for those who can’t or are temporarily unable to find a job, SNAP has helped to give them a leg up. Now is not the time to further reduce this already modest assistance to these struggling families. Our network of 300 food shelves across the state are already strained with 3,000,000 visits a year. The system does not have the resources or capacity to fill in the gaps should Congress make deeps cuts to the SNAP benefits.”
About Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger by taking action, advancing public policy and guiding grassroots advocacy on behalf of hungry Minnesotans and the diverse groups that serve them. We connect Minnesota’s food shelves and hunger-relief organizations with the necessary funding, technical assistance and logistical support to reach thousands of Minnesota individuals, families and children in need. Our work is made possible through the generous support of donors across the country, each sharing our commitment to ensuring no Minnesotan will struggle with food insecurity alone.
To learn more about hunger in Minnesota, visit www.hungersolutions.org, or connect with Hunger Solutions Minnesota on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the SNAP cuts and the economic impact, visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which provided some of the data in this release: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4036