On November 1, 2013, all SNAP/3SquaresVT households will see a decrease in their monthly benefit amount. We want Vermonters to be aware of these cuts, so we’ve gathered information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priories (CBPP), Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Feeding America.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress provided a temporary increase in SNAP benefits. The SNAP benefit boost was included in ARRA both because it would help struggling low-income households to provide enough food for their families during the recession and because of the stimulative effect it would have on local economies.
The ARRA benefit boost was structured to phase out incrementally as food prices rose and caught up with boosted benefit levels. However, in 2010 Congress passed two bills that paid for investments in other priorities by prematurely ending the boost to SNAP benefits. As a result, all SNAP participants will see their benefits cut on November 1, 2013 when the ARRA benefit boost expires. A family of four will lose about $36 per month from their maximum benefit, a loss of $432 over the course of the year.
On November 1, 2013, all 3SquaresVT households will see a decrease in their monthly benefit amount. The amount of the decrease is based on household size.
Household size: Monthly Benefits Lost Beginning November 1
SNAP benefits are already inadequate to get through the month
Most participants already run through their SNAP benefits by the third week of the month, with 90% of SNAP benefits redeemed by day 21 of the month. Due in part to SNAP benefit inadequacy, 58% of food bank clients currently receiving SNAP benefits turn to food banks for assistance at least 6 months out of the year.
Charity can’t fill the gap
The Vermont Foodbank and the network partners that we work with are already resource strapped. Currently, the Foodbank is experiencing a 10% shortfall in donated food product and is expecting to see even more cuts in donated product during the next year. Fighting hunger is a public-private partnership. We need a strong charitable system AND a strong federal anti-hunger safety net.
Lower SNAP benefits will make it harder for participants to access adequate nutrition and increase tradeoffs between food and other household necessities
Low-income households already face additional hurdles to accessing a nutritious diet. For many families, stretching limited food resources may mean sacrificing the nutritional quality or variety of food in order to make food dollars last through the month. The cut in SNAP benefits also comes at a time when SNAP nutrition education funding was cut by 25% in 2013, meaning that families will have less support in how to maximize nutrition with limited food resources. Currently, nearly 40% of clients served by the Vermont Foodbank report having to choose between paying for food and paying for other necessities like utilities, medicine and child care.
At a time when so many families are still struggling to make ends meet and all SNAP participants will see their benefits reduced, Congress must not make further cuts to SNAP.
On top of the benefit cliff SNAP families will face in November, Congress is considering even deeper cuts to SNAP that would result in millions of people seeing their benefits cut further or losing benefits entirely.
Just last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill with $40 billion in SNAP cuts, resulting in over 15 billion lost meals for struggling families over the next ten years. To put this in context, if these cuts were divided evenly across Feeding America’s national network of food banks, every food bank would have to provide an additional 7.5 million meals each year for the next ten years.
Click the chart below for the State-by-State Impact of SNAP ARRA Cuts:
For more information on how your SNAP/3SquaresVT benefits might be affected, or how you can sign up for SNAP/3SquaresVT, please contact the Vermont Foodbank 3SquaresVT Outreach Manager, Sally Ingraham, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-477-4136. You can also learn more about our 3SquaresVT outreach on our website.