Sunday, November 03, 2013

initial food stamp cuts went into effect last week...,

WaPo | The region’s most vulnerable residents will find themselves reshuffling their budgets Friday when a temporary boost to the federal food stamps program expires, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars used by families to keep food on the table.

Nationally, the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will be reduced by $5 billion after a vast expansion over the past five years. In the District, about 61 percent more residents use food stamps than did in 2007, according to data from NeighborhoodInfo DC. That amounts to more than 144,000 residents, or nearly one in every four.

The increases were also stark in the suburbs. In Montgomery County, for example, there was a 183 percent increase in residents using food stamps, from about 25,000 to 71,000 today. Similar increases were seen in Prince George’s and Fairfax counties.

The impact of the cut on individuals will vary widely, but experts estimate that those on food stamps will receive between 5 and 8 percent less. For example, a family of three with no income will see monthly benefits reduced by $29, to $497 from $526.

“That could be lunch for a week,’’ said Deborah Carroll, administrator of the District’s Economic Security Administration. “It will definitely have an effect on how people access food.”

States have largely declared that little can be done on their part to help augment the program. In Maryland, which has a goal of ending hunger by 2015, officials are still working to get more families whatever SNAP benefits they can, according to Brian Schleter, the state’s spokesman for the Department of Human Services. In Virginia, in which one in every 10 residents receive food stamps, officials are encouraging people to seek help from local charities and churches.

A number of those organizations have said they are already stretched thin because of increasing demand, fewer donations and sequestration-related cuts.